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The Role of Climate in Human Health

Project Abstract

The Role of Climate in Human HealthThe area of the human health impacts of climate is complex, requiring the interdisciplinary efforts of health professionals, climatologists, biologists, and social scientists to analyze the myriad relationships among physical, biological, ecological, and social systems relevant to health impacts. This is an impact area where an integrated assessment framework is obviously most needed Burke et al., 2001, Smolinski et al., 2003, McMichael et al., 2003). The goal of this theme is to develop a unique interdisciplinary research and educational program that will bring together leading institutions in health and climate science (i.e., NCAR, University of Wisconsin, Madison, CDC). The theme has important connections to the other themes, including extreme events and characterizing uncertainty in the relationship between climate and health (McMichael, 2003).


Climate and Health Summer Colloquium

The interactions between climate and health are rife with complexity, and present many conceptual and methodological challenges. Possible effects of climate change on health are considered some of the most sensitive impacts of climate change and are high priority for the public and policy makers. As a first step toward improving the quality of research, this colloquium presented selected case studies of climate and health (e.g., heat mortality and vector-borne diseases) demonstrating a subset of key analytical tools and databases most useful to researchers in this field. Key research gaps in this research area were also discussed.

ISSE is currently planning a second Climate and Health Summer Colloquium for 2006.


SOARS Research Projects Summer 2005

Linda Mearns, Jonathan Patz and Mary Hayden are working with two SOARS students on specific climate and health research topics.

Julien Wang is majoring in Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. She is going to be a third-year undergraduate there, and this is her first year as a SOARS protégé. Her research interests are in the field of finding correlations between environmental issues and public health. The work she is doing for this summer will be looking at how climate change affects health in terms of vector-borne diseases and perhaps other health indicators. This may tie-into climate change indicators as well, such as hurricanes and ocean currents.

Nicole Ngo attends the University of California, Irvine and is seeking a double major in Earth System Science and Economics. She will be a senior next year, but will probably be staying another year at UCI. She wants a career that relates earth sciences with economics. This is her first venture with SOARS. Potentially, she will be researching the effects of rainfall variability in India and its effects on cholera outbreaks in Bangladesh.

For more information, see


Project Leads

  • Linda Mearns, Project Co-Lead
    Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, NCAR
  • Jonathan Patz, Project Co-Lead
    University of Wisconsin, Madison

For more information about this project, please contact Linda Mearns at: lindam at, or Jonathan Patz at: patz at

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