Development of Health Analysis Methodology for Natural and Working Lands Management Scenarios
To apply for this project, see the pre-proposal solicitation requirements on the solicitation landing page.
Scope of Work
The implementation of natural and working land management strategies impacts public health and the environment. The objective of this project is to develop and expand CARB’s ability to quantify the health benefits from future climate actions that promote healthy forests and other natural lands and reduce the frequency and negative impacts of wildfire events. The project will build on previous CARB-funded research and existing models and data to develop streamlined methods to quantify the annual health impacts of future wildfire emissions under various climate and management scenarios in forests, shrublands, and grasslands. The project will also analyze the health impacts by race/ethnicity and other vulnerable groups. The final results will be capable of providing support for natural and working land management to reduce the risk of wildfire and other climate change impacts by quantifying the health benefits from these strategies.
California’s natural and working lands (NWL) cover approximately 99 percent of the state and include forests, grasslands, shrublands and chaparral, agricultural lands, wetlands, sparsely vegetated lands, and the green spaces in urban and built environments. California’s NWL provide a multitude of benefits, including biodiversity, recreation, food, economic prosperity, human health benefits, and many others. Natural and working lands are also an important component in California’s fight to achieve carbon neutrality. The majority of California’s NWL carbon stocks are in forests, shrublands, and grasslands.1 Improving the health of these lands can maximize their ability to sequester and store atmospheric carbon and limit the release of future GHG emissions. Continued, business-as-usual management of NWL, like in forests, shrublands, and grasslands, leaves them more vulnerable to future climate change impacts such as wildfire.
California’s 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality indicates that California is projected to lose carbon stocks from NWL over the coming decades. A major driver of this loss is from wildfire, which has been increasing in size and severity over the last two decades. The unprecedented scale of emissions from recent wildfires and the subsequent air quality impacts from wildfire smoke has caused serious and widespread harm to public health and the resulting impacts costing billions of dollars per year. Preliminary research funded by CARB estimates that from 2008 to 2018, wildfire emissions alone in California were responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths, and cost society almost $400 billion.2 However, increasing the pace and scale of climate smart land management in California will reduce the GHG emissions from the NWL sector, including emissions from wildfire.3
To understand more completely the benefits of actions that will be taken in California to reduce emissions from NWL, it is critical to measure the health impacts of these strategies. In the 2022 Scoping Plan, the health benefits of various land management scenarios in forests, shrublands, and grasslands to reduce future wildfire PM2.5 emissions were quantified. Using CARB-funded preliminary research that estimated the past impacts of wildfires, future health impacts were calculated for various health endpoints including mortality, respiratory and cardiovascular endpoints.2 CARB’s analysis showed that increasing specific forest and land management actions reduces wildfire emissions and avoids PM2.5 emission-related health effects. Across all the health endpoints analyzed, increasing forest management beyond current levels results in better public health outcomes, and decreased health cost compared to business as usual. To expand upon this work for future analyses, this project will develop improved air quality and health analysis methodology to quantify annual health benefits with more spatially and temporally refined methods. This methodology will better quantify how resilient landscapes can reduce the amount and intensity of wildfire emissions and reduce health impacts. These benefits will be analyzed at the statewide and regional levels for future climate and NWL management scenarios to assess the reduction in the negative impacts from wildfire. Health impacts will also by analyzed by race/ethnicity and other vulnerable groups to determine which areas and populations in California will experience the greatest health benefits and impacts. The results of this project will be used by CARB in the development of future climate policies and implementation of NWL management strategies that maximize health benefits, reduce the risk of wildfire, and promote resilience to climate change.
III. Scope of Work
The investigators for this contract will work closely with CARB staff in each of the tasks listed below including the literature review, air quality quantification approach, and health analysis.
Task 1. Literature review
The contractor will build on previous efforts funded by CARB to provide a comprehensive literature review that includes the latest research and government reports on the health impacts from natural and working lands and NWL management strategies. Based on the literature review the contractors will perform the following subtask:
- Subtask 1: Wildfire Health Impact Functions – Previous studies funded by CARB identified health impact functions of health endpoints for wildfire PM2.5 (mortality; emergency room visits for cardiac, respiratory, and asthma related outcomes; hospitalizations for respiratory, asthma, and chronic lung disease) that are listed in the 2020 CARB Scoping Plan, Appendix G. The contractor will review and update these health impact functions based on the latest research as necessary and determine if these health impact functions for wildfire PM2.5 can be estimated for racial/ethnic subgroups and other vulnerable groups. The contractor will also identify health impact functions for additional health endpoints for wildfire PM2.5 such as mental health and birth outcomes and also estimate these outcomes for racial/ethnic subgroups if possible.
Task 2. Develop a quantitative approach to calculate air quality impacts of wildfire emissions from future statewide land management scenarios
The contractor will, to the extent possible, build on previous research and tools developed and/or funded by CARB and partner agencies to develop an approach to quantify statewide air quality impacts from future wildfire emission scenarios provided by CARB. The emission scenarios will be pre-developed estimates of future wildfire emissions at the ecounit4 scale that incorporate multiple climate and management scenarios in forests, shrublands, and grasslands. The contractor will develop a streamlined framework for integrating the emission scenarios with historical dispersion (e.g., from existing re-analysis of climatology developed for California5) in order to produce spatially and temporally explicit air quality estimate maps of areas likely to experience elevated PM2.5 concentrations in the different future scenarios.
The final air quality impact outputs should be estimates of PM2.5 concentrations from at least 2025 to 2045, calculated at a monthly and annual temporal scale as well as at a statewide, ecounit, and, if possible, census track spatial scale. The air quality impacts should be temporally explicit on monthly to yearly time steps for each ecounit/census tract for every scenario identified by CARB. Some disaggregation of the input emissions scenarios to daily temporal scales and subecounit (e.g., 1-2 km) spatial scales6 may be necessary to produce modeled air quality impact results sensitive enough to capture the effects of complex terrain and differing daily emissions rates to assess differences across all scenarios. This methodology will allow CARB to evaluate the potential air quality impacts from a number of different climate scenarios, representative transport/dispersion patterns5, monte carlo iterations, and management strategy combinations. The PM2.5 outputs from this task will be used in a health impact analysis to quantify the health benefits from all scenarios.
Task 3. Quantify the health benefits from future statewide land management strategies that reduce emissions from wildfire
The contractor will build on previous research funded by CARB and findings from Task 1 and 2 to develop a health impact analysis to quantify the health benefits of reduced wildfire PM2.5 emissions from the provided climate and land management scenarios for all health endpoints included in the study. The calculated health benefits will be evaluated annually from 2025-2045 at the statewide, regional/ecounit, and ideally census tract level. Using population sociodemographic data, available tools, and other datasets as needed, health impacts will be disaggregated by race/ethnicity, income, and other vulnerable groups to allow for an equity analysis of the health outcomes for all scenarios. The results will provide important information on projected statewide health benefits from various climate and land management scenarios in forests, shrublands and grasslands, and will help compare benefits between different regions of the state and different racial/ethnic, income, and vulnerable subgroups. The contractor will quantify and provide insights into how different future wildfire emission scenarios impact regional and sub-regional (e.g. census tract) areas of the state, low-income communities, communities of color, and other vulnerable or overburdened communities.
Task 4. Interim Meetings and Reporting
The investigators will work closely and collaboratively with CARB staff for all tasks. The investigators will have meetings with CARB staff (frequency of biweekly to monthly as agreed to by contractors and CARB), provide interim milestones and dates for accomplishing tasks, submit quarterly progress reports, and participate in quarterly progress update meetings.
Task 5. Final Report and Sharing of Results
At the conclusion of the project, the investigators will provide a draft final report and final report to CARB that includes an equity implications section and plain language summary. The investigators will also work with CARB to hold a virtual or in-person seminar that communicates the research project and results to a broad public audience that includes people with both academic and non-academic backgrounds.
The investigators will provide all data, models, methodology, computer code (commented with documentation), and all data analysis results generated through the course of the project in electronic format. Additionally, the investigators are highly encouraged to prepare peer-reviewed journal articles as appropriate and will provide a preview of the manuscript to CARB for their comments prior to submission for review by a journal. Articles should be submitted to open-access journals. For more details regarding all required deliverables see IV. Deliverables.
The project proposal must include but is not limited to the following deliverables:
At the Beginning of the Contract
- All researchers must undergo cultural competency training (examples include implicit bias training, racial equity training, etc.). Trainings should be completed or scheduled within 30 days of contract execution.
During the Active Contract Period
- Quarterly Progress Reports and conference calls; The progress reports will include plain-language summaries that can be posted publicly. A progress report template will be provided.
- Consultation calls with CARB and key stakeholders. Suggested frequency is biweekly and when agreed to by contractors and CARB, meeting frequency could change to monthly.
- Interim milestones and deliverables including dates for accomplishing tasks for each year of the project and possibly more frequently should be included.
Prior to Contract Close
- All data, methods, analyses, computer code (commented with documentation), and models/analytical tools generated through the course of this project.
- Training and documentation/guidelines for using the methods, models, and tools generated from the project.
- A health analysis that quantifies the health benefits of reduced wildfire PM2.5 emissions from the provided climate and land management scenarios for all health endpoints included in the study.
- Draft final report to include a detailed discussion of the health endpoints selected and vulnerable populations included in health impact functions, the model(s) and/or approach used to conduct the air quality analysis using emission inputs provided by CARB and the health analysis for future land management and wildfire scenarios.
- Include a plain language summary of both the model(s) and/or approach used in air quality analysis and the health impact analysis of future forest management and wildfire scenarios in draft final report.
- Include an equity implications section in draft final report.
- Final Report.
- Virtual or in-person seminar that communicates the research project and results to a broad public audience that includes people with both academic and non-academic backgrounds.
- Peer reviewed publications should be publicly available (please budget for this expense; submission-ready publications shall be reviewed by CARB staff).
- Additional deliverables to be determined in consultation with CARB staff.
It is anticipated this project will be completed in 36 months from the start date. Cost shall not exceed $550,000.
- CARB. 2018. An Inventory of Ecosystem Carbon in California’s Natural and Working Lands. https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/cc/inventory/pubs/nwl_inventory.pdf
- 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality Appendix I: Natural and Working Lands Technical Support Document page 95-103
- CARB. November 16, 2022. 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality
- Ecological units (ecounits) defined by 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality Appendix I: Natural and Working Lands Technical Support Document figure 6 and page 29-38
- CARB and some of its partner agencies (e.g., CEC and CalFire) have previously funded a statewide climatology from which historical dispersion patterns may be derived, and from which Hysplit ARL files that drive dispersion modeling can be produced: https://cansac.dri.edu/coffframe.php?page=reanalysis.php. This resource along with other previous research and data sources should be considered.
- CARB and the USFS AirFire Team already partner to utilize the BlueSky dispersion framework to model dispersion and near-term forecast where smoke will go from a given emissions source operationally (See https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/resources/fact-sheets/california-smoke-spotter/ and Larkin et al., 2009 for details https://doi.org/10.1071/WF07086)
Responsiveness to the Goals and Objectives Outlined in the Proposal Solicitation(15 points)
Proposers should demonstrate a clear understanding of the policy objectives and research needs that CARB seeks to address with this project, and should convey their knowledge of the subject. The proposal should have a clear research question or testable hypothesis. The proposal should consider various aspects of the research need and identify or acknowledge biases. The proposal should spell out, in adequate detail, exactly what the Proposer proposes to do to satisfy the requirements of the Solicitation. The draft proposal must propose work that would satisfy the objective(s) stated in the Research Solicitation: review literature on health benefits of natural and working lands, develop a quantitative approach to calculate air quality impacts of wildfire emissions, develop a health analysis to quantify health benefits of land management strategies to reduce wildfire, and address equity concerns in the analyses for the health impacts.
Policy Relevance/Benefits to the State (10 points)
Does the proposal describe how the project will provide data, information, and/or products to help CARB accomplish its mission? Will the proposal support the state’s natural and working land policies, statutes and executive orders that advance the state’s climate goals?
Previous Work (15 points)
Do the researchers have relevant experience in this area? Is the team composed of a multidisciplinary team of experts? Do they discuss how they will build upon previous relevant work that was funded by CARB, other state agencies, and federal agencies? 5 points will be reserved for project teams that meet at least one of the following criteria:
- The project team is multi-disciplinary
- The project team members come from various universities or include non-academic institutions or community-based organizations
- The project team includes one or more members, contributing significantly to the project (i.e. a principle investigator, co-principle investigator or co-investigator, contributing 25% or more of their time to the project) who have not worked with CARB in the past 5 years.
Technical Merit (25 points)
Describe the submission's technical strengths and/or weaknesses. Proposers should demonstrate the logic and feasibility of the methodology and technical approach to the project, spell out the sequence and relationships of major tasks, and explain methods for performing the actual work. The proposal should provide an explanation of how the proposed methods are robust and how results will be validated. Please factor in how well the draft proposal describes these areas:
- Is the proposed work scientifically defensible?
- Does the proposed research demonstrate comprehensive understanding and experience in air quality and climate modeling, epidemiology, health impact analyses, and equity analysis?
- Does the proposal provide a work-plan, experimental design, and method for analyzing results?
- Is the proposed work using appropriate technologies, models, and methods? Does the proposal utilize established health impact analyses methodology? Will their proposed analysis produce the relevant results?
- Does the proposed work address all the deliverables required in section “IV Deliverables”? If not, the proposal should not be considered for funding.
- The review team will be selecting only one draft proposal for development into a full proposal. If this draft proposal has potential, what areas or topics should be prioritized or better explained in the full proposal?
Level and Quality of Effort to be Provided (15 points)
Does the proposal allocate time and resources in such a way that the objectives of the study will be met? Is supervision and oversight adequate for ensuring that the project will remain on schedule? Is the distribution of workload appropriate for activities such as research, evaluation and analysis, data reduction, computer simulation, report preparation, meetings, and travel?
Cost Effectiveness (20 points)
Does the cost seem appropriate for the proposed work? Does the proposed work seem feasible within the requested budget? Projects that provide co-funding should be evaluated more favorably.