Indian Summer

Three Essays on Heatwave Vulnerability, Estimation and Adaptation

by Gulrez Shah Azhar

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Researchers agree that climate change linked to increasing temperatures poses a grave threat to developing countries like India. The extent of the risk, however, is unclear due in part to a lack of appropriate data and analysis.

In this dissertation, I first explore how future heatwaves in India may vary over time and geography and estimate the impact they might have on mortality. Merging census, survey, and satellite remote sensing data from multiple sources, I apply principal component analysis to create a district-level composite Heat Vulnerability Index. Then using temperature, population, and heat-death data, I calculate exposure-response function regression estimates and use them to predict heat-related deaths under multiple future climate change and population growth scenarios. From these analyses, I can identify heat hotspots in the country and estimate excess mortality.

In addition, I also explore mechanisms to mitigate the mortality effects of heatwaves. To generate appropriate local heat adaptation measures, I conducted sixteen in-depth interviews of academics, climate-health researchers, medical doctors, community activists, urban planners, and policy advisors with expertise in heatwaves and India. After coding the qualitative data, I summarize the range of policy options across household, community and national levels.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Paper 1: Heatwave vulnerability mapping for India

  • Chapter Three

    Paper 2: Future heat death estimates for India under climate change and population scenarios

  • Chapter Four

    Paper 3: Heat Adaptation

  • Chapter Five

    Policy Implications

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in August 2019 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Gery Ryan (Chair), Jaime Madrigano, and Raffaele Vardavas.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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