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Fine-scale climate model projections predict malaria at local levels
Date:7/2/2014

Fine-scale climate model projections suggest the possibility that population centers in cool, highland regions of East Africa could be more vulnerable to malaria than previously thought, while population centers in hot, lowland areas could be less vulnerable, according to a team of researchers. The team applied a statistical technique to conventional, coarse-scale climate models to better predict malaria dynamics at local levels.

"People might have an interest in predictions for global malaria trends and even more so for regional patterns, but they probably care most about what's going to happen in their own town or village," said Matthew Thomas, professor and Huck Scholar in Ecological Entomology, Penn State. "We found that malaria predictions using global climate model simulation results don't necessarily tell you what's going to happen at a specific location. What is likely to happen in one location can be very different from another location just 50 miles down the road. To really understand the impact of climate change on malaria dynamics we need to adopt a higher-resolution approach."

According to Krijn Paaijmans, assistant research professor, Barcelona Centre for International Health Research, the ability of mosquitoes to transmit malaria is strongly influenced by environmental temperature.

"Malaria mosquitoes are ectothermic organisms, which means that their body temperature matches the temperature of their direct surroundings," Paaijmans said.

The scientists examined how changes in temperature due to future climate warming might impact the potential for mosquitoes to transmit malaria. The researchers compared malaria transmission at four sites in Kenya that differed in their baseline environmental characteristics -- two sites were cool upland locations, a third site was a warm lower-altitude site and a fourth site was a hot savannah-like environment. The team used a statistical technique to "downscale" projections from conventional
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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