Michelle L. Bell

Professor of Environmental Health

Climate Change

This research explores how weather and heat waves affect health in the present day, and how health risks from weather and air pollution could be affected by a changing climate. We have investigated how weather-related mortality differs by region, population characteristics, and heat wave characteristics (e.g., timing in summer), which gives insight into adaptation to extreme conditions. By linking air quality, meteorological, and climate change models, we estimated changes in ozone levels and subsequent health response under a changing climate for 50 U.S. cities. Another topic of interest is co-benefits in which policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions may result in improvements in air quality, and thereby health, in the near term. Future research projects will address changes in exposure-response relationships through adaptation. We recently began a study of how climate change could impact forest fires and thereby human health.

Examples From Our Work 

Increase in summer O3 from 1990s to 2050s (Bell et al. Climatic Change 2007).


Relationship between temperature and mortality risk for New York, NY (Anderson and Bell Epidemiology 2009).

Selected Relevant Publications

Peng RD, Bobb JF, Tebaldi C, McDaniel L, Bell ML, Dominici F. In press. Towards a quantitative estimate of future heat wave mortality under global climate change. Environmental Health Perspectives.

Anderson GB, Bell ML. 2011. Heat waves in the United States: Mortality risk during heat waves and effect modification by heat wave characteristics in 43 US communities. Environmental Health Perspectives 119(2), p: 210-218.

Bell ML, Davis DL, Cifuentes LA, Krupnick AJ, Morgenstern RD, Thurston GD. 2008. Ancillary human health benefits of improved air quality resulting from climate change mitigation. Environmental Health 7:41.

Bell ML, O’Neill MS, Ranjit N, Borja-Aburto VH, Cifuentes LA, Gouveia NC. 2008. Vulnerability to heat-related mortality in Latin America: a case-crossover study in São Paulo, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; and Mexico City, Mexico. International Journal of Epidemiology 37(4), p. 796-804.

Bell ML, Goldberg R, Hogrefe C, Kinney PL, Knowlton K, Lynn B, Rosenthal J, Rosenzweig C, Patz J. 2007. Climate change, ambient ozone, and health in 50 U.S. cities. Climatic Change 82(1-2), p. 61-76.