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Climate projections show human health impacts possible within 30 years
Date:2/19/2011

A panel of scientists speaking today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) unveiled new research and models demonstrating how climate change could increase exposure and risk of human illness originating from ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems, with some studies projecting impacts to be felt within 30 years.

"With 2010 the wettest year on record and third warmest for sea surface temperatures, NOAA and our partners are working to uncover how a changing climate can affect our health and our prosperity," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "These studies and others like it will better equip officials with the necessary information and tools they need to prepare for and prevent risks associated with changing oceans and coasts."

In several studies funded by NOAA's Oceans and Human Health Initiative, findings shed light on how complex interactions and climate change alterations in sea, land and sky make ocean and freshwater environments more susceptible to toxic algal blooms and proliferation of harmful microbes and bacteria.

Climate change could prolong toxic algal outbreaks by 2040 or sooner

Using cutting-edge technologies to model future ocean and weather patterns, Stephanie Moore, Ph.D., with NOAA's West Coast Center for Oceans and Human Health and her partners at the University of Washington, are predicting longer seasons of harmful algal bloom outbreaks in Washington State's Puget Sound.

The team looked at blooms of Alexandrium catenella, more commonly known as "red tide," which produces saxitoxin, a poison that can accumulate in shellfish. If consumed by humans, it can cause gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms including vomiting and muscle paralysis or even death in extreme cases.

Longer harmful algal bloom seasons could translate to more days the shellfish
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Contact: John Ewald
john.ewald@noaa.gov
240-429-6127
NOAA Headquarters
Source:Eurekalert

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