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).

Human Health

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are investigating the complex interactions among meteorological, ecological, social and behavioral processes in order to reduce the impacts of weather variability and climate change on human health. This research is performed with collaborators from U.S. and international universities and agencies, and has the following objectives:

  • To understand the complex relationships among weather, climate and human health.
  • To determine societal vulnerabilities and appropriate responses and adaptations to weather-and-climate-related threats to human health.
  • To provide the state-of-the-art weather, climate, and air quality information in support of public health decision-making.
  • To mentor the next generation of researchers in these interdisciplinary areas.

Components

In the EPA-funded project, NCAR researchers used interdisciplinary methods to connect atmospheric science, built environment science and epidemiology to estimate health risks of older adults in Houston, TX from indoor heat. Our findings underscore the importance of considering indoor exposures, the combined effects of high ozone concentrations and extreme heat, and population vulnerability in health effects research on air pollution and extreme heat.
In the EPA-funded project, NCAR researchers used interdisciplinary methods to connect atmospheric science, built environment science and epidemiology to estimate health risks of older adults in Houston, TX from indoor heat. Our findings underscore the importance of considering indoor exposures, the combined effects of high ozone concentrations and extreme heat, and population vulnerability in health effects research on air pollution and extreme heat.

The NCAR Weather, Climate and Health Program has research experience in the United States, including Colorado as well as internationally. Embedded withinNCAR’s Research Applications Laboratory, the program comprises climate, social, and health scientists with research expertise in environmental health (i.e., extreme heat and air quality), vector-borne diseases, GIS, community science, and health systems’ operational preparedness. Current research includes:

  • Investigating population vulnerabilities to weather hazards and climate change through integrating atmospheric, social, and health sciences.
  • Developing interdisciplinary research frameworks, spatial methods, usable datasets, and decision support tools for planning, policy, public health interventions, and risk communication.
  • Evaluating the independent and combined impacts of indoor and outdoor extreme heat and poor air quality on the health of vulnerable populations.
  • Assessing the potential for vector-borne diseases (e.g., Zika, West Nile) to expand in the Americas under a variety of climate-and-societal change scenarios.

  • Working with health systems in East, Southern and West Africa to enhance collaboration and joint operational capacities of national hydro-meteorological services and health departments to prepare for new and emerging health threats from increased climate variability and change.
  • Developing a transferable process for adoption and sustainability of community-based interventions across multiple sites.
  • Mentoring early-career scientists and students in interdisciplinary research methods in climate and health sciences and GIS decision-support systems.

 

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Climate and Weather Impacts on Human Health