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

based on precipitation trends in western Africa. Iron is limited in ocean environments and is essential to most forms of life. In a study conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, Erin Lipp, Ph.D. and graduate student Jason Westrich demonstrated that the sole addition of desert dust and its associated iron into seawater significantly stimulates growth and persistence of Vibrios, a group of ocean bacteria that occur worldwide and can cause gastroenteritis and infectious diseases in humans.

"Within 24 hours of mixing weathered desert dust from Morocco with seawater samples, we saw a 10-1000-fold growth in Vibrios, including one strain that could cause eye, ear, and open wound infections, and another strain that could cause cholera ," said Lipp. "Our next round of experiments will examine the response of the strains associated with seafood-related infections."

Since 1996 Vibrio cases have jumped 85 percent in the United States based on reports that primarily track seafood-illnesses. It is possible this additional input of iron, along with rising sea surface temperatures, will affect these bacterial populations and may help to explain both current and future increases in human illnesses from exposure to contaminated seafood and seawater.

Increased rainfall and dated sewers could affect water quality in Great Lakes

A changing climate with more rainstorms on the horizon could increase the risk of overflows of dated sewage systems, causing the release of disease-causing bacteria, viruses and protozoa into drinking water and onto beaches. In the past 10 years there have been more severe storms that trigger overflows. While there is some question whether this is due to natural variability or to climate change, these events provide another example as to how vulnerable urban areas are to climate.

Using fine-tuned climate models developed for Wisconsin, Sandra McLellan, Ph.D., at the University of
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Contact: John Ewald
john.ewald@noaa.gov
240-429-6127
NOAA Headquarters
Source:Eurekalert

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