Asthma and Climate - A Synoptic Approach
Synoptic Climatology Lab
Center for Climatic Research - University of Delaware

Research performed at the Synoptic Climatology Lab indicates that there is a distinct seasonal trend in overnight asthma admissions to New York City hospitals. A differential inter-seasonal impact of weather, air pollution, and outdoor allergens on asthma admissions was determined.  There is a strong relationship between asthma admissions and cool, dry weather situations in fall that are marked by high pressure. Cold and dry winter weather is also associated with increased admissions. However, in spring and summer, high concentrations of various air pollutants and outdoor allergens exhibit a greater effect on admissions than any air mass (or weather situation) identified. Below can be found an abstract of the article "A Synoptic Evaluation of Asthma Hospital Admissions in New York City". The full article is not yet avaliable online, but can be found in the American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine 1997; Vol. 156.

A Synoptic Evaluation of Asthma Hospital Admissions in New York City

Dr. Laurence S. Kalkstein
Center for Climatic Research
Department of Geography
University of Delaware

Paul F. Jamason
Cecil M. & Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics & Planetary Physics

Scripps Institute of Oceanography

La Jolla, CA

Peter J. Gergen
Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Service
Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR)
Rockville, MD

American Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine 1997;Vol. 156

An evaluation of weather/asthma relationships in the New York City Standard Metropolitan
Statistical Area (SMSA) is developed using a synoptic climatological methodology. This procedure
isolates "air masses," or bodies of air that are homogeneous in meteorological character, and
relates them to daily counts of overnight asthma hospital admissions. The synoptic procedure used
here, known as the temporal synoptic index (TSI), can identify air masses in automated fashion
for every day over many years. It is apparent that certain air masses are related to statistically
significant increases in asthma hospital admissions. The impact varies seasonally, with weather
having a particularly important impact on asthma admissions during fall and winter. It appears
that air pollution has little impact on asthma during these two seasons, and the air masses
associated with the highest admissions are not distinguished by high concentrations of pollutants.
However, during the spring and summer, the air masses associated with highest admissions are
among those with high pollution concentrations. There is a strong interseasonal differential
response to weather and air pollution by asthmatics in New York City. If these results can be
replicated at other locations in future studies, it may be possible to develop and asthma/weather
watch warning system, based on the expected arrival of high admissions air masses.

Copyright © University of Delaware, 2000 January.
Synoptic Climatology Lab
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