Trajectories of adaptation to climate change, by immigration status and country of origin

The world is getting hotter and some of the changes are unfortunately nether preventable nor reversible. A human body has a remarkable ability to adapt to a new environment. Understanding biological coping mechanisms might accelerate development of new ideas on how the humanity can adapt, survive and prosper under the changing climate conditions. We suggest taking an advantage of the Negev region population and climate settings. The region is known for its extreme meteorological conditions and frequent dust storms and population of 750,000 comprising large fraction of immigrants (30%) from regions with a colder climate from 1990s-wave (former-USSR) or hot climate from Ethiopia, genetically-native population of Bedouin-Arabs (30%) and Israeli-born. This sets ideal conditions for "natural experiment" on climate change and human endurance and adaptation, as a function of time since immigration. 

In the proposed study we will analyze the temporal trends of climate-related morbidities in ethnic subgroups. Specifically, we will (1) estimate the impact of heat and dust on the hot climate naïve populations (immigrants) as compared to Israeli-born subgroups; (2) identify populations suffering the most from temperature fluctuations/heat waves and dust storms; (3) define the risk function of temperature and dust exposure within subgroups. For this initial study, we will focus on short-term effects of climate on birth outcomes and morbidity from cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.

The study population will comprise patients attending emergency department or hospitalized in Soroka hospital, the only hospital serving the Negev population.  We will focus on the adaptation abilities to environment, based on comparison of immigration cohorts and country of origin. Our findings will reveal a possible trajectory of adaptation to changing meteorological conditions, and identify susceptible populations where an intervention is warranted. 

At the second stage, the study will be extended to the national survey within the Clalit patients.