Congratulations to recipient of the Réal-Décoste scholarship 2022

Ouranos would like to congratulate Jérémie Boudreault of INRS, who was awarded the Réal-Décoste scholarship 2022 for his research project on estimating the cost of extreme heat in the context of climate change using data science approaches.

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Ouranos would like to congratulate Jérémie Boudreault of INRS, who was awarded the Réal-Décoste scholarship 2022 for his research project on estimating the cost of extreme heat in the context of climate change using data science approaches.

Learn more about the scholarship

Summary of the research project

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that as the climate evolves, we will witness an uptick in the number, intensity and duration of extreme climate events such as extreme heat waves. Such events can have considerable health impacts. For example, the 2003 heat wave in Europe caused up to 70,000 deaths while a similar episode in 2010 in Quebec resulted in 280 deaths and an additional 3,400 visits to the emergency room.

Although the impacts of extreme heat are well documented, the associated costs of such events have been little studied to date. For example, no model for forecasting the costs of extreme heat has ever been properly developed; only descriptive statistics have been used. With the expected increase in this type of event in the future, it is essential that this issue be addressed.

This project aims to develop new approaches to estimating the costs of extreme heat, which will result in more accurate and comprehensive estimates compared to what has been achieved to date. Firstly, health-related incidents (deaths, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, accidents in the workplace, etc.) owing to extreme heat will have to be correctly predicted. Existing models will be reviewed and corrected. For example, the addition of new meteorological variables and the introduction of self-learning models are likely to enhance forecast accuracy for health occurrences.

Additionally, different cost models will be developed to estimate the various financial impacts of extreme heat. One model for the cost of hospitalizations as a function of patient and weather characteristics will be built. Another model will be developed to quantify the costs of claims for work accidents related to heat.

Lastly, staffing needs for extreme heat episodes will also be modelled. These models will be inspired by actuarial models but adapted to the context of extreme heat. Once again, more advanced approaches such as self-learning will also be explored. Once the models have been built, they will be used jointly to estimate the total current costs of extreme heat as well as to predict future costs. For example, climate change impacts will be analyzed with the most recent climate models available for different emission scenarios and time horizons. Lastly, to obtain realistic future costs, other changes such as demographic and socioeconomic will also be considered in future estimates.

The estimates for the health and economic impacts of extreme heat that will be produced under this project will help illustrate to decision-makers the need to curb greenhouse gas emissions and promptly invest in effective adaptation measures in order to mitigate the consequences of extreme heat in the context of climate change. Lastly, newly developed models in the context of extreme heat will be able to be adapted for other variables and applied in other parts of the world.

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