The Impact on Human Health of Climate and Climate Change: Research in the ENSEMBLES Project from Seasonal to Centennial Timescales

  • Chris D. Hewitt
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 30)

Abstract

Human health is affected by climatic conditions, and our understanding of climate-health relationships is improving, as is our ability to predict the weather and climate. Predicting natural climate variability and the future climate is a major challenge because of complicated processes and interactions in the Earth system. The best tools for this task are physically based climate models. However, the predictions are inherently probabilistic because of uncertainties in the models and the experimental design. The uncertainties can be explored by carrying out a well-designed set of integrations of climate models, to produce an ensemble of results. An ensemble climate forecast system is being developed within the EU ENSEMBLES project for use across a range of timescales (seasonal, decadal and longer) and spatial scales (global, regional and local). The model system will be used to construct probabilistic scenarios of future climate change and climate variability. The outputs of the ensemble prediction system will be used to drive a wide range of applications including health. In the past, assessments of the impacts of climate change have often used climate means, but in numerous applications, particularly health, it is the climatic extremes that are more important. The focus on extreme events in the ENSEMBLES project will be particularly useful in this regard. The workshop on “Climate, Climatic Change and its Impacts on Human Health” took place at the beginning of the second year of the ENSEMBLES project, which was timely: methodologies and techniques for probabilistic predictions were being developed, which could be useful for climate-health studies, and climate model simulations had been carried out.

Keywords

ENSEMBLES climate climate change health impacts 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Collins, M., B. B. Booth, G. R. Harris, J. M. Murphy, D. M. H. Sexton and M. J. Webb (2006). Towards quantifying uncertainty in transient climate change. Climate Dynamics, in press, doi:10.1007/s00382-006-0121-0.Google Scholar
  2. Cubasch, U., G. Meehl, et al. (2001). Projections of future climate change. In: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, J. T. Houghton et al. (eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 525–582.Google Scholar
  3. Folland, C. K., T. R. Karl, et al. (2001). Observed climate variability and change. In: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, J. T. Houghton et al. (eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 99–181.Google Scholar
  4. Hewitt, C. D. and D. J. Griggs (2004). Ensembles-based predictions of climate changes and their impacts. Eos 85:566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Koppe C., R. S. Kovats, G. Jendritzky and B. Menne (2004). Heat-waves: risks and responses. WHO Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen. Health and Global Environmental Change Series, No. 2, http://www.euro.who.int/document/e82629R.pdf
  6. McMichael A. J., A. Githeko, et al. (2001). Human health. In: Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, J. McCarthy et al. (eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 451–485.Google Scholar
  7. Mitchell, J. F. B., D. J. Karoly, et al. (2001). Detection of climate change and attribution of causes. In: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, J. T. Houghton et al. (eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 695–738.Google Scholar
  8. Palmer, T. N., U. Andersen, P. Cantelaube, M. Deque, F. J. Doblas-Reyes, H. Feddersen, R. Graham, S. Gualdi, J.-F Gueremy, R.Hagedorn, M. Hoshen, N. Keenlyside, A. Lazar, V. Marletto, A. P. Morse, B. Orfila, P. Rogel, J.-M. Terres and M. C. Thomson. (2004). Development of a European ensemble system for seasonal to inter-annual prediction. Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society 85: 853–872.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Tebaldi, C., J. Arblaster, K. Hayhoe and G. Meehl (2006). Going to the extremes: an intercomparison of model-simulated historical and future changes in extreme events. Climatic Change 79: 185–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Thomson, M. C., F. J. Doblas-Reyes, S. J. Mason, R. Hagedorn, S. J. Connor, T. Phindela, A. P. Morse and T. N. Palmer (2006). Malaria early warnings based on seasonal climate forecasts from multi-model ensembles. Nature 439: 576–579.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. WHO (2004). Using climate to predict disease outbreaks: a review. World Health Organization WHO/SDE/OEH/04.01, http://www.who.int/globalchange/publications/oeh0401/en/index.html

Copyright information

© Met Office, UK 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris D. Hewitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Met OfficeHadley Centre for Climate Prediction and ResearchExeterUK

Personalised recommendations