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Sam Heft-Neal
Journal Articles

The changing risk and burden of wildfire in the United States

Marshall Burke, Anne Driscoll, Sam Heft-Neal, Jiani Xue
PNAS, 2021 January 12, 2021

Recent dramatic and deadly increases in global wildfire activity have increased attention on the causes of wildfires, their consequences, and how risk from wildfire might be mitigated. Here we bring together data on the changing risk and societal burden of wildfire in the United States. We estimate that nearly 50 million homes are currently in the wildland–urban interface in the United States, a number increasing by 1 million houses every 3 y.

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Working Papers

The Changing Risk and Burden of Wildfire in the US

Marshall Burke, Anne Driscoll, Jennifer Burney, Sam Heft-Neal, Jenny Xue, Michael Wara
The National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020 June 30, 2020

Recent dramatic and deadly increases in global wildfire activity have increased attention on the causes of wildfires, their consequences, and how risk from fire might be mitigated. Here we bring together data on the changing risk and societal burden of wildfire in the US. We estimate that nearly 50 million homes are currently in the wildland-urban interface in the US, a number increasing by 1 million houses every 3 years.

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Journal Articles

Dust pollution from the Sahara and African infant mortality

Marshall Burke, Sam Heft-Neal
Nature Sustainability, 2020 June 29, 2020

Estimation of pollution impacts on health is critical for guiding policy to improve health outcomes. Estimation is challenging, however, because economic activity can worsen pollution but also independently improve health outcomes, confounding pollution–health estimates. We leverage variation in exposure to local particulate matter of diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5) across Sub-Saharan Africa driven by distant dust export from the Sahara, a source uncorrelated with local economic activity.

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Journal Articles

Armed conflict and child mortality in Africa: a geospatial analysis

Zachary Wagner, Sam Heft-Neal, Zulfiqar A Bhutta,Robert E Black, Marshall Burke, Eran Bendavid
The Lancet, 2018 August 30, 2018

The extent to which armed conflicts—events such as civil wars, rebellions, and interstate conflicts—are an important driver of child mortality is unclear. While young children are rarely direct combatants in armed conflict, the violent and destructive nature of such events might harm vulnerable populations residing in conflict-affected areas. A 2017 review estimated that deaths of individuals not involved in combat outnumber deaths of those directly involved in the conflict, often more than five to one.

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Journal Articles

Higher temperatures increase suicide rates in the United States and Mexico

Marshall Burke, Felipe González, Patrick Baylis, Sam Heft-Neal, Ceren Baysan, Sanjay Basu, and Solomon Hsiang
Nature Climate Change, 2018 July 23, 2018

Linkages between climate and mental health are often theorized, but remain poorly quantified. In particular, it is unknown whether the rate of suicide, a leading cause of death globally, is systematically affected by climatic conditions. Using comprehensive data from multiple decades for both the United States and Mexico, we find that suicide rates rise 0.7% in US counties and 2.1% in Mexican municipalities for a 1 °C increase in monthly average temperature. This effect is similar in hotter versus cooler regions and has not diminished over time, indicating limited historical adaptation.

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Journal Articles

Robust relationship between air quality and infant mortality in Africa

Sam Heft-Neal, Jennifer Burney, Eran Bendavid, Marshall Burke (198750)
Nature, 2018 June 27, 2018

Poor air quality is thought to be an important mortality risk factor globally

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Journal Articles

Using remotely sensed temperature to estimate climate response functions

Sam Heft-Neal, David Lobell, Marshall Burke
Environmental Research Letters, 2017 January 17, 2017

Temperature data are commonly used to estimate the sensitivity of many societally relevant outcomes, including crop yields, mortality, and economic output, to ongoing climate changes. In many tropical regions, however, temperature measures are often very sparse and unreliable, limiting our ability to understand climate change impacts.

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Journal Articles

Sources of variation in under-5 mortality across sub-Saharan Africa: a spatial analysis

Marshall Burke, Sam Heft-Neal, Eran Bendavid
The Lancet Global Health, 2016 October 25, 2016

The ongoing decline in under-5 mortality ranks among the most significant public and population health successes of the past 30 years.

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