Research Group: Climate Change and Health

The Climate Change and Health research team aims to combine knowledge and methods in environmental epidemiology, public health, and climate sciences to develop innovative methods that will help advance knowledge on the impacts of climate change on human health.

Our research focuses on high-priority topics today, such as the quantification of health impacts attributed to climate-related environmental factors and the design and evaluation of adaptation strategies and mitigation policies. The team also leads several research lines on more complex and novel areas, including health impact attribution studies, projections of health impacts under climate change scenarios and assessment of health impacts of compound weather events. We are also collaborating with renowned experts from other fields on urban health and heat warning systems and weather forecasts. Finally, our research also focuses on highly vulnerable populations to climate change such as mental health patients, older adults and pregnant women.

The group is a member of the Multi-City Multi-Country Collaborative Research Network, and the Oeschger Center of Climate Change Research of the University of Bern.

If you want to stay updated with our research projects and the most important activities of our research group, you can subscribe to our newsletter. 

Group leader

Group members

If you want to stay updated with our research projects and the most important activities of our research group, you can subscribe to our newsletter.

See the previous newsletters of the team here: Fall 2023

December 2023

Uni Aktuell article about the climate facts for 2023

At the COP 28 world climate conference in Dubai, the global community is currently trying to limit human-made global warming. Where is climate change already making itself felt today? Four researchers from the University of Bern present climate facts 2023 in video statements. Read more

November 2023

Interview with Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera

Recently, Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera gave an interview to the Library of Medicine of the University of Bern presenting her research. Here you find the Instagram post of the Library of Medicine.

November 2023

Habilitation Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera

Last October, the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bern granted the venia docendi along with the appointment as Associate Professor to Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera. See the presentation video in the Faculty Board Meeting of the 25th of October 2023.

Oktober 2023

ENBEL conference - Connecting health and climate change (Stockholm, October 11th & 12th)

The members of the team presented several ongoing works in this international scientific event, and had a productive exchange with experts on climate change and health attending the event.

September 2023

"Beat the heat" workshop (Zurich, September 15th)

Sujung Lee, Adrienne Wehrli, Evan de Schrijver and Coral Salvador attended the 2nd workshop "Beat the heat", an event that gathered experts on urban heat in Switzerland.

September 2023

OCCR Plenary meeting (Bern, September 11th)

Prof. Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera gave a keynote at the last plenary meeting of the Oeschger Center for Climate Change research of UniBe.

April 2023

European Geoscience Union's EGU Vienna Conference: A Platform for Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

Vienna, 23.04.2023 - The European Geoscience Union's (EGU) annual conference in Vienna brought together over 15,000 participants from 107 countries for a week of scientific exchange and collaboration from the field of natural sciences, covering topics ranging from the deep interior of the Earth to the pressing challenges of climate change, the event proved to be a hub of diverse knowledge and expertise.

EGU Vienna, organized annually, provides a unique opportunity for scientists from different fields to collaborate and address the complexities inherent in their respective areas of study. From climate scientists to experts in extreme event attribution, insurance, and re-insurance, attendees recognized the need for cross-collaboration to tackle the multifaceted issues confronting the planet.

Our Climate Change and Health team actively engaged in various sessions, presenting our research and contributing to the conference's visibility. Among the notable contributions were:

Dr. Coral Salvador, a post-doctoral researcher from the Climate Change and Health team, shared her recent work investigating the impact of heat on acute cardiovascular disease events in adults aged 40-75 years residing in Madrid.

Sidharth Sivaraj presented results from his ongoing PhD project on the role of humidity in high heat-related mortality events. His study, part of the compound weather and climate events session, shed light on the emerging field of combined extreme events, such as extreme heat and humidity. Sidharth emphasized the importance of exchanging concepts and methodologies between multi-disciplinary fields to understand climate change's health impacts better and to provide a better understanding of the foundational challenges shared in both fields.

Prof. Dr. Ana Vicedo-Cabrera presented a groundbreaking study quantifying the footprint of human-induced climate change on heat-related deaths during Switzerland's scorching summer of 2022. This study, recently published in Environmental Research Letters, piqued the interest of diverse audiences from various fields due to the practical approach taken, highlighting the need for collaboration between climate scientists and epidemiologists.

Laura Paredes-Fortuny, a Ph.D. student at the Mediterranean Center for Environmental Studies, showcased her research on the impact of heatwave characteristics on mortality in Spanish cities. Her project, undertaken in collaboration with our Climate Change and Health team at ISPM (during the fall of 2022), garnered significant attention at the conference.

Dr. Evan de Schrijver received great interest in his poster presentation on "Nationwide Projections of Heat- and Cold-Related Mortality Impacts under Climate Change and Population Development Scenarios in Switzerland." Here, he showcased the novel approach of incorporating population development projections in future health impact modeling, a necessity yet a modelling approach that is still so often overlooked.

EGU Vienna emerged as a premier platform to foster connections beyond the field of epidemiology. The conference demonstrated the significance of collaborating with climate scientists and utilizing their data to estimate health impacts on society. The wealth of knowledge exchanged and the willingness to work together for a sustainable future was evident throughout the event.

For more information on the studies presented during the conference, please visit:

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ACTUAL ("Advancing research on extreme humid heat and health") aims to advance knowledge about the impact of humid heat on human health through developing, diversifying, and applying new methodologies, data resources, and settings beyond existing current state-of-the-art approaches in climate epidemiology.     

Led by Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera, it is a SNSF Starting Grant 2022 project funded with 1.7 million CHF for 5 years, starting in June 2023.

Extreme heat is considered among the most hazardous environmental factors for human health. From the perspective of human physiology, hot temperatures are particularly harmful with concurrent high humidity. In the epidemiological literature, however, the role of humidity as a driver of heat stress remains unclear, and even debatable based on the contradictive findings obtained so far. Clarifying inconsistencies in the temperature-humidity-health triangle and providing reliable, robust scientific evidence on the impact of humid heat among populations is urgently needed to efficiently address health-related challenges from climate change. ACTUAL seeks to clarify these inconsistencies through a series of case studies or experiments which were carefully designed to answer the following questions: Is temperature enough to capture the effect of heat stress? or should we consider humidity as well? and, in which settings or populations?

Case study 0 will provide a theoretical framework showing the links between temperature, humidity and health that will support the design of three large epidemiological studies.

Namely, in case study 1 the team will use a probabilistic framework to compare excess mortality estimates at extremely humid and dry heat events.

In case studies 2 and 3, the team will derive vulnerability profiles to humid heat by summarizing risks from mortality and hospitalization data from a worldwide database, and from data collected through commercial wristbands, respectively.

Finally, case study 4 aims to assess the impact of humid heat on health among a high-risk population, specifically the city of Basse Santa Su and the surrounding region (The Gambia in Sub-Saharan Africa).  

The project will count on the collaboration of renowned researchers in the various fields relevant to the project, ranging from physiologists to climate scientists and epidemiologists.

The project «Impacts of climate change on health, well-being and performance of humans and animals and food safety in Switzerland» ("NCCS-Impacts-Health") aims to provide up-to-date, robust, actionable scientific evidence on climate change impacts on health based on existing knowledge gaps and evidence needs that would feed into decision-making processes at national, regional, and local scales in Switzerland. The project applies a transdisciplinary approach by which relevant stakeholders and researchers will participate in a continuous dialogue (“co-creation” and “co-implementation”). The overarching aim is to support the development of strategies and interventions to help strengthen the resilience of the health of the Swiss population and its healthcare system to climate change.

The project is led by Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera, with the contribution of a group of experts in public health, epidemiology, veterinary, statistics and climate change from different faculties and institutes at the University of Bern, and communication and dissemination experts from EBP.

This project is part of the NCCS program «Decision Support for Dealing with Climate Change in Switzerland: a cross-sectoral approach» («NCCS-Impacts»), which aims to provide actionable climate services for the environment, society, politics and economy in Switzerland.

NCCS-Impacts-Health started in February 2023 and will run until November 2025. The project is structured in four thematic modules led by researchers of the University of Bern (Modules 1 (Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera, ISPM), 3 (Gertraud Schüpbach, Fac. Veterinary), 4 (Julien Riou, ISPM)) and from BLV/Agroscope (Module 2 (Antonia Ruckli)). There are two transversal modules, namely, Module 0 led by Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera and Module 5, led by the communication services company EBP.

Module 0 will be responsible for the coordination of the project and administration.  

Module 1 will aim to assess the vulnerability to heat of the general population, with particular focus on the older population, and the health system in Switzerland, including health professionals and infrastructure. 

Module 2 will elaborate recommendations for farmers and stakeholders that will aid to maintain and improve the health, welfare and performance of pigs and poultry exposed to heat. 

Module 3 will aim to develop a decision-support tool for food safety in collaboration with relevant stakeholders. 

Module 4 will perform a comprehensive assessment of current and future risks associated with vector-borne diseases (VBD) in Switzerland, with a particular focus on infectious diseases transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. 

Module 5 aims to apply methods from a user-centered design to ensure the proper communication of the research findings and boost a positive and proactive response from the stakeholders. 

Teaching activities

Several members of the team participate and/or lead several teaching activities on topics around climate epidemiology, planetary health and biostatistics at the University of Bern and overseas.

We also supervise MSc thesis, doctoral thesis and PhD thesis from the University of Bern and other international institutions.

Blattner, Charlotte E.; Vicedo-Cabrera, Ana M.; Frölicher, Thomas L.; Ingold, Karin; Raible, Christoph C.; Wyttenbach, Judith (2023): How Science Bolstered a Key European Climate-Change Case. Nature 621.

De Schrijver, Evan; Sivaraj, Sidarth; Raible, Christoph C.; Franco, Oscar H.; Chen, Kai; Vicedo-Cabrera, Ana M. (2023): Nationwide Projections of Heat- and Cold-Related Mortality Impacts Under Various Climate Change and Population Development Scenarios in Switzerland. Environmental Research Letters 18.

Salvador, Coral; Gullón, Pedro; Franco, Manuel; Vicedo-Cabrera, Ana M. (2023): Heat-related first cardiovascular event incidence in the city of Madrid (Spain): Vulnerability assessment by demographic, socioeconomic, and health indicators. Environmental Research 226.

De Schrijver, Evan; Bundo, Marvin; Ragettli, Martina S.; Sera, Francesco; Gasparrini, Antonio; Franco, Oscar H.; Vicedo-Cabrera, Ana M. (2022): Nationwide Analysis of the Heat- and Cold-Related Mortality Trends in Switzerland between 1969 and 2017: The Role of Population Aging. Environmental Health Perspectives 130:3.

Lee, Sujung; Salvador, Coral; Tuel, Alexandre; Vicedo-Cabrera, Ana M. (2023): Exploring the association between precipitation and hospital admission for mental disorders in Switzerland between 2009 and 2019. PLoS ONE 18:4.

Vicedo-Cabrera, Ana M.; de Schrijver, Evan; Schumacher, Dominik L.; Ragettli, Martina S.; Fischer, Erich M.; Seneviratne, Sonia I. (2023): The footprint of human-induced climate change on heat-related deaths in the summer of 2022 in Switzerland. Environmental Research Letters 18.