Climate and Weather Impacts on Human Health

Modeling the Impact of Climate on Infectious Disease Transmission and Human Health
It is thought that meningitis transmission is facilitated by dust particles transported during strong wind events like the one shown in this satellite image taken over West Africa. RAL scientists have developed a prototype decision support system that integrates weather and health data to provide information that can be used to contain the spread of meningitis epidemics. (Image courtesy NASA).
It is thought that meningitis transmission is facilitated by dust particles transported during strong wind events like the one shown in this satellite image taken over West Africa. RAL scientists have developed a prototype decision support system that integrates weather and health data to provide information that can be used to contain the spread of meningitis epidemics. (Image courtesy NASA).

Scientists in RAL are researching the complex interactions among climate processes, ecosystems, and human health in order to understand and model climate impacts on human well-being.  Climatic variability and extremes impact the magnitude and spatial extent of infectious diseases such as dengue fever, zika virus, West Nile virus, and meningitis.  Climate circulations and weather systems are the primary drivers of dust storms that transport disease-spreading spores, allergens, pathogens and radioactive dust particles. Urban heat waves elevate the vulnerability of large populations to heat–related illness.  Climate change in the next century may increase the occurrence and severity of weather extremes (such as flooding, droughts, and heat waves) across many regions of the globe where humans are already vulnerable to climate–related health risks.

RAL scientists are addressing the need to comprehensively understand current and future health risks associated with weather and climate using both observational analyses and modeling approaches.  Projects in RAL are aimed at synthesizing the climatic, ecological, and social factors that impact human health in order to model climate–related health risks.  Health officials, urban planners, and local governments will use this information to identify populations vulnerable to elevated health risks, and take necessary action.

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Climate and Weather Impacts on Human Health