Image courtesy Shannon McCloskey

Undergraduate researcher Shannon McCloskey has been recognized as a University Scholars awardee for her project “Exploring How Early Season Tropical Cyclones Indicate Full Season Activity”, under the supervision of Stephen Mullens.  Shannon is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a Minor in Geography and a Certificate in Meteorology and Climatology. She is also the Treasurer of the Strong Roots Movement.

The Graham Civic Scholars 2020: Climate Change and Community program focuses on climate change impacts and preparedness in Florida’s 67 counties.

Congratulations, Shannon!

Image courtesy Journal of Hydrology

AMANAMBU, MOSSAGroundwater System and Climate Change: Present Status and Future Considerations

Amobichukwu C. Amanambu, Omon A. Obarein, Joann Mossa, Lanhai Li, Shamusideen S. Ayeni, Olalekan Balogun, Abiola Oyebamiji, Friday U. Ochege

Article first published online: 12 JUN 2020 Journal of Hydrology

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2020.125163

ABSTRACT: Climate change will impact every aspect of biophysical systems and society. However, unlike other components of the climate system, the impact of climate change on the groundwater system has only recently received attention. This focus is due to the realization that groundwater is a vital freshwater resource crucial to global food and water security, and is essential in sustaining ecosystems and human adaptation to climate variability and change. This paper synthesizes findings on the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on the entire groundwater system and each component. Also, we appraise the use of coupled groundwater-climate and land surface models in groundwater hydrology as a means of improving existing knowledge of climate change-groundwater interaction, finding that most models anticipate decreases in groundwater recharge, storage and levels, particularly in the arid/semi-arid tropics. Reducing uncertainties in future climate projections and improving our understanding of the physical processes underlying models to improve their simulation of real-world conditions remain a priority for climate and earth scientists. Despite the enormous progress made, there are still few and inadequate local and regional aquifer studies, especially in less developed regions. The paper proposes two key considerations. First, physical basis: the need for a deeper grasp of complex physical processes and feedback mechanism with the use of more sophisticated models. Second, the need to understand the socioeconomic dimensions of climate-groundwater interaction through multidisciplinary synergy, leading to the development of better adaptation strategies and groundwater-climate change adaptation modelling.

Read the full publication at Journal of Hydrology.

Malaria risk shifting with climate change in Africa – seasonal (7-9 months) and endemic (10-12 months) risk shift geographically under the two projected climate change scenarios, leading to different number of people at risk (of endemic transmission) across the four regions, over time. (Figure adapted from Ryan et al, 2020)

GAINESVILLE, FL – In a new paper in Malaria Journal “Shifting transmission risk for malaria in Africa with climate change: a framework for planning and intervention”, part of a cross-journal collection on the Contribution of Climate Change to Spread of Infectious Disease, QDEC’s Sadie J. Ryan, along with Cat A. Lippi and collaborator Fernanda Zermoglio (M.S. UF Geography ‘00) show how projected climate change will alter malaria transmission potential patterns, placing populations at risk in different parts of Africa in 2030, 2050, and 2080, under different emissions scenarios. Funded by the USAID ATLAS (Adaptation, Thought, Leadership, and Assessments) project, this study aimed to describe how regional changes in risk would affect different places and populations in different ways, relevant to decision making for intervention.

Malaria interventions for seasonal outbreaks differ from managing year-round risk, so understanding where these patterns will change is important for both anticipating new regions at risk, and where to change health infrastructure and capacity. In Western Africa, there is a massive drop in the number of people at risk of year-round malaria transmission, but this is a function of increasing temperatures, putting much of the region at hotter temperatures than the mosquitoes best transmit. The region expecting the greatest risk increase by 2080, in terms of people, is the densely populated Eastern Africa, where seasonal risk will increase and push into novel areas, according to predictions.

This regional approach to thinking about where malaria transmission will change is important to global health policy. “It’s hard to communicate the intersection of demography and geographic risk, so aligning our scales with those at which decisions are often made is useful” Dr Ryan points out. Mapping disease risk is not enough, she continued, because we make decisions based on how many people, and when, not just where.

Read the whole paper at Malaria Journal.

Image courtesy Malaria Journal

LIPPI, RYANShifting transmission risk for malaria in Africa with climate change: a framework for planning and intervention

Sadie J. Ryan, Catherine A. Lippi, & Fernanda Zermoglio

Article first published online: 01 MAY 2020 Malaria Journal

DOI: 10.1186/s12936-020-03224-6


Malaria continues to be a disease of massive burden in Africa, and the public health resources targeted at surveillance, prevention, control, and intervention comprise large outlays of expense. Malaria transmission is largely constrained by the suitability of the climate for Anopheles mosquitoes and Plasmodium parasite development. Thus, as climate changes, shifts in geographic locations suitable for transmission, and differing lengths of seasons of suitability will occur, which will require changes in the types and amounts of resources.

The shifting geographic risk of malaria transmission was mapped, in context of changing seasonality (i.e. endemic to epidemic, and vice versa), and the number of people affected. A published temperature-dependent model of malaria transmission suitability was applied to continental gridded climate data for multiple future AR5 climate model projections. The resulting outcomes were aligned with programmatic needs to provide summaries at national and regional scales for the African continent. Model outcomes were combined with population projections to estimate the population at risk at three points in the future, 2030, 2050, and 2080, under two scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5).

Estimated geographic shifts in endemic and seasonal suitability for malaria transmission were observed across all future scenarios of climate change. The worst-case regional scenario (RCP8.5) of climate change predicted an additional 75.9 million people at risk from endemic (10-12 months) exposure to malaria transmission in Eastern and Southern Africa by the year 2080, with the greatest population at risk in Eastern Africa. Despite a predominance of reduction in season length, a net gain of 51.3 million additional people is predicted be put at some level of risk in Western Africa by midcentury.

This study provides an updated view of potential malaria geographic shifts in Africa under climate change for the more recent climate model projections (AR5), and a tool for aligning findings with programmatic needs at key scales for decision-makers. In describing shifting seasonality, it was possible to capture transitions between endemic and epidemic risk areas, to facilitate the planning for interventions aimed at year-round risk versus anticipatory surveillance and rapid response to potential outbreak locations.

Read the full publication at Malaria Journal





Image courtesy Dr. Darla Munroe

Land Systems and Climate Justice

Speaker: Dr. Darla Munroe

Professor & Department Chair, Department of Geography, The Ohio State University

Friday, 21 February 2020

3:00 – 4:30 PM

Reitz Union G330

University of Florida

There is greater recognition among IPCC and other scientific networks of the complex role land systems play in adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. Encouraging key shifts in land systems to more sustainable uses is necessary to food security, societal well-being, and the health of terrestrial ecosystems. However, policy interventions that do not address how and why current challenges reflect the profitability of environmental degradation, and that fail to prioritize social justice are unlikely to address root causes of unsustainable land systems.

Ohio State University, Department of Geography Professor & Department Chair, Dr. Darla Munroe will present her research in the second of two talks for the University of Florida 2020 Anderson Research Lecture series, in a talk titled Land Systems and Climate Justice.

Dr. Darla Munroe is an economic, and human-environment geographer specializing in landscape-level, long-run environment-economy relationships, with a particular focus on how political and economic restructuring manifest in local land-use change. She is a member of the Scientific Steering Committee for the Global Land Programme and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Land Use Science. Her research is comparative, addressing land systems, particularly forests at the urban-rural interface in Eastern Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia. Her current research focuses on boom-bust natural resource economies and forested community change in Appalachian Ohio.

Image courtesy Dr. Peter Waylen

Dr. Peter Waylen saw the first fruits of a collaboration with Dr. Chris Annear (Anthropology, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY) in a paper entitled Socializing the rain: human adaptation to ecological variability in a fishery, Mweru-Luapula, Zambia, which appeared during the summer in the Journal of Political Ecology. Chris is a young Anthropologist who studied the fishers and fish trader on Lake Mweru and their families. Pete was able to help Chris better understand the fluctuations in lake level and the number and variety of fish caught by considering long term changes in rainfall inputs to the upstream basin. This is a nice example of two people from very disparate disciplinary backgrounds coming together to work on a problem combining both the human and physical dimensions. The second coauthored paper, Interannual Hydroclimatic Variability of the Lake Mweru Basin, Zambia, dealing more with the hydroclimatological characteristics of the basin was published in the journal Water, and brought UF Geography alumna Dr. Erin Bunting into the collaboration.

WAYLENSocializing the rain: human adaptation to ecological variability in a fishery, Mweru-Luapula, Zambia

Christopher M. Annear, Peter R. Waylen

Article first published online: 23 AUG 2019 Journal of Political Ecology

DOI: 10.2458/v26i1.23246

ABSTRACT: Rainfall drives fishery fertility in Mweru-Luapula, thus rainfall variability contributes to frequent changes in fishing catches. Fishers and traders have adapted their institutions to this variable ecology in a variety of ways, including learning to read the fishery for productive periods and practicing multiple modes of income procurement. By accurately identifying inter-annual, inter-decadal, and longer spans of rainfall trends, future high and low yields can be forecast. This article presents and analyzes annual rainfall in the fishery from 1916-1992 and quantitative fish market data comprised of observed fish catch numbers by species in three markets from September 2004 to September 2005. It uses political ecology to better understand fish production, trade, and subsistence in this South-Central African freshwater fishery. We combine qualitative analysis of fisher and marketer perceptions of the fishery and knowledge of rainfall patterns to show how human behavior is not “tragically” driven, but instead based on the state of the ecological, sociocultural, and socioeconomic environment at a given time.

Read the full publication at Journal of Political Ecology

Image credit: CDC/ Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Dir., Cntr. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Notre Dame/James Gathany

GAINESVILLE – Blood sucking insects such as the Yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, are more than just a nuisance in Ecuador, they also spread diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika. A warming world means that public health officials must decide where to direct surveillance and mosquito control efforts not only today, but also decades down the road given dramatic shifts in mosquito habitat that will take place thanks to climate change.

Ecuadorian agencies now have a powerful helping hand: a recent paper in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases provides detailed maps forecasting where mosquitoes – and diseases – are likely to be in a warmer future.

The new work from the University of Florida’s Quantitative Disease Ecology & Conservation Lab Group (QDEC Lab) and the Emerging Pathogens Institute assesses the current and future geographic distribution of Ae. aegypti throughout Ecuador. The study was led by PhD Candidate Ms. Cat Lippi and is the result of a long-term collaboration with SUNY Upstate Medical University and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health. Lippi’s committee chair, EPI researcher and QDEC founder Dr. Sadie Ryan, also contributed to the project, as did EPI investigator Dr. Jason Blackburn.

The research team repurposed historic larval mosquito surveillance data collected by the Ministry of Health between 2000 and 2012 in Ecuadorian households to predict where Ae. aegypti may occur in areas that have not yet been surveyed. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are important because they are a vector for several different mosquito-borne diseases and are able to reproduce in small quantities of standing water, making them common in urban settings. The research team used environmental and climate modeling to analyze how areas currently suitable for the mosquito may shift in the future as a result of climate change.

Maps A and E show mosquito distribution today while maps B-D and F-H show where mosquitoes can be predicted in the future given different climate change scenarios.

“We wanted to show the Ministry of Health in Ecuador where disease-carrying mosquitoes might occur in the future,” Lippi says. By analyzing the environmental and climactic characteristics associated with where mosquitoes occur in Ecuador today, the team extrapolated where mosquitoes may occur in 2050 under a range of climate change scenarios and used the presence of these mosquitoes as a proxy for where disease would occur.

The models show that Ae. aegypti are likely to expand their range into regions of transitional elevation along the Andes mountain range by midcentury. The expanded habitat includes the portion of mountainous area where valley floors give way to a mountain’s lower slopes. The higher reaches of the Andes famed peaks are expected to remain protected pockets that will still be too cool, even with extreme warming, for Ae. aegypti to survive. At the same time, changing climate will reduce the mosquito’s range in the eastern portion of the country’s Amazon.

“When there is a population that has never been exposed to pathogens like dengue or Zika, they don’t have any immunity, and that population will be vastly more susceptible to an acute outbreak,” Lippi says. “There are thousands of Ecuadorians who will be exposed to mosquitoes in the future who have never had to deal with them before.”

The team will share their results with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health, which will use the data to prepare for the future. Previous work through the team’s collaboration with Ecuador’s Ministry of Health showed that local knowledge and attitudes are significantly associated with the risk of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes in households in Ecuador, although effects on actual dengue fever risk are less clear. Mosquito-borne diseases pose a serious threat to public health throughout Ecuador and Latin America, where dengue alone accounts for an estimated 16 million infections occurring in the Americas each year.

“Our work gives their health department good forewarning of where to focus their preparations to prevent future outbreaks, and this will help them to conserve limited resources,” Lippi says. Preparations may include educational campaigns on using insect repellent, and window and door screens, as well as how to safely store household water in covered containers. The government can also coordinate spraying efforts to reduce mosquito larvae in the environment.

“Of course we expect to see changes in habitat and species’ ranges due to future climate change,” Lippi says. “But what this study addresses is the question of where those changes will occur, and how severe those changes may be, all within the context of disease risk to people.”

Un nuevo estudio de la Universidad de Florida (Estados Unidos) sugiere que los mosquitos que transmiten enfermedades podrían infectar a poblaciones humanas en Los Andes ecuatorianos debido al cambio climático

Comunidades en Latino América tienen el desafío de reducir la exposición a mosquitos que transmiten enfermedades, como el Aedes aegypti. En Ecuador, este mosquito es más que una molestia. El Aedes aegypti trasmite víruses que causan enfermedades de alta consideración para la salud pública incluyendo dengue, chikungunya y Zika. Dónde el Ministerio de Salud Publica (MSP) podría enfocar los esfuerzos de vigilancia y control de estos mosquitos, hoy y en el futuro, tomando en cuenta el cambio climático?

Un nuevo estudio del grupo, Ecología de Enfermedades y Conservación Cuantitativa (QDEC), de la Universidad de Florida, analiza la distribución geográfica del Aedes aegypti a través de todo Ecuador. El proyecto fue dirigido por Cat Lippi, estudiante de PhD de QDEC, y es el resultado de una colaboración a largo plazo con la Universidad del Estado de New York y Universidad Médica de “Upstate” (SUNY UPSTATE) y el MSP del Ecuador. El equipo de investigadores usó datos históricos de vigilancia de mosquitos recolectados por el MSP para predecir lugares donde Aedes aegypti podría estar presente. Áreas que no se ha inspeccionado de una manera activa y áreas donde podría estar presente en el futuro bajo condiciones de cambio climático. Modelos de “nicho ecológico” fueron creados usando información sobre lugares con la presencia actual del moquito y con variables básicos del ambiente. Los modelos fueron desarrollados usando condiciones climatológicas actuales y futuras, hasta el año 2050.

Este estudio muestra que lugares con elevaciones intermedias a lo largo de Los Andes pueden convertirse en zonas mas asequibles para la presencia de Aedes aegypti en el año 2050. Este descubrimiento sugiere que la población que actualmente viven en estas zonas de transición puede correr el riesgo, en el futuro, de ser expuesto a enfermedades transmitidas por mosquitos, como resultado de cambio climático. Los autores reportan que aumentará la población con riesgo de exposición por más de 12,000 personas bajo los escenarios extremos de cambio climático. Al mismo tiempo, los investigadores identificaron áreas que pueden ser menos propicias para los mosquitos, como la cuenca de la Amazonia.

Actualmente, la mayor parte de las personas que viven en Los Andes están protegidos por las enfermedades transmitidos por mosquitos debido a las altas elevaciones, lo que produce un ambiente frio y no apto para los moquitos. En situaciones extremas de cambio climático, los mosquitos pueden invadir nuevas lugares con elevación de 900 metros más alto que los lugares en actuales condiciones climatológicas. “Las personas que vivan en esta zona de expansión de enfermedades pueden ser más susceptibles a futuros brotes de enfermedades debido a varios factores, incluyendo falta de inmunidad debido a exposición previa al patógeno y falta de conocimiento y costumbres asociados con la prevención de mosquitos y costumbres de protección personal, como el uso de repelente,” indica Lippi. Estudios previos en colaboración con el MSP del Ecuador mostraron que el conocimiento y actitudes de las poblaciones locales están asociados con el riesgo de la presencia de Aedes aegypti en hogares en Machala. Se recomienda estudios en estos nuevas áreas de futuro riesgo.

Las enfermedades transmitidas por mosquitos son una amenaza para la salud pública en toda Latinoamérica, donde dengue causa aproximadamente 16 millones de infecciones anualmente. Estudios como éstos enfatizan la importancia de incorporar la ciencia de “Geografía de la salud” dentro de los estándares de la práctica de la educación pública, proveyendo información más precisa a las agencias de salud pública para mejorar el uso de escasos recursos para el de control de estas enfermedades y para desarrollar intervenciones de control vectorial y de educación pública en lugares específicos.

Media contact: Mike Ryan Simonovich