Developing a geospatial measure of change in core temperature for migrating persons in the Mexico-U.S. border region

Spat Spatiotemporal Epidemiol. 2020 Nov;35:100363. doi: 10.1016/j.sste.2020.100363. Epub 2020 Jul 24.


Although heat exposure is the leading cause of mortality for undocumented immigrants attempting to traverse the Mexico-U.S. border, there has been little work in quantifying risk. Therefore, our study aims to develop a methodology projecting increase in core temperature over time and space for migrants in Southern Arizona using spatial analysis and remote sensing in combination with the heat balance equation-adapting physiological formulae to a multi-step geospatial model using local climate conditions, terrain, and body specifics. We sought to quantitatively compare the results by demographic categories of age and sex and qualitatively compare them to known terrestrial conditions and prior studies of those conditions. We demonstrated a more detailed measure of risk for migrants than those used most recently: energy expenditure and terrain ruggedness. Our study not only gives a better understanding of the 'funnel effect' mechanisms, but also provides an opportunity for relief and rescue operations.

Keywords: Border studies; Climatology; Exposure Science; GIS; Human physiology; Public health; Remote sensing; Spatial analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arizona / epidemiology
  • Body Temperature*
  • Child
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Female
  • Heat Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Heat Stroke / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Relief Work
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis
  • Young Adult