IRAP Funded Projects

Within NOAA’s Climate and Societal Interactions Program (CSI), IRAP supports interdisciplinary research focused on countries and regions where weather and climate impacts may affect U.S. economic, development, scientific and security interests. The IRAP seeks to create practical knowledge, bridges and partnerships among the scientific community’s multi-disciplinary research and services activities, and the needs and capabilities of decision makers and resource managers around the world with a stake in risk management, adaptation and development.

FY 18-20 IRAP Projects on Decision Support Research on Climate-Sensitive Health Risks

In order to inform planning and prevention focused on weather and climate-sensitive health risks to U.S. economic, development, scientific and safety interests at home and abroad, IRAP initiated six new two-year projects following a highly competitive funding competition, totaling approximately $1.5 million. The projects build on the methodologies established in the first round of IRAP interdisciplinary research (see below) and those utilized by the NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) Program.

Climate and weather events such as heavy rains, flooding, heatwaves, droughts and severe storms have substantial implications for human health and well-being around the world. In an increasingly global society, these impacts can have cascading consequences for communities and states within U.S. borders as well as our investments in the private sector, international development, and national safety and well-being. Understanding how climate and weather events abroad affect U.S. interests in the health, international development and national security sectors is a critical step in the use of knowledge, products and early warning, and the development of integrated information systems - including those supported by NOAA and our international partners - to address practical challenges of risk management, economic growth, and bolster the stability and security of the U.S.

In FY 18, IRAP solicited projects that:1) advance knowledge of sub-seasonal to seasonal climate impacts on the health, economy and well-being of transboundary regions in the U.S., and stimulate the development and use of related products and knowledge; 2) identify causal linkages and solutions for reducing risk through the application of climate and weather information; 3) demonstrate the role of innovation in coordinating climate and weather services across transboundary regions (e.g. through contributions to early warning systems or transboundary resource management mechanisms or other agreements); 4) inspire the production of information of near term relevance to planning and preparation designed to anticipate, mitigate and prevent health threats such as diseases outbreaks, mortality and morbidity, worker safety and productivity, and migration; and 5) identify, elucidate and test the institutional partnerships and pathways to effective use of predictive information to reduce health risks and enhance resilience at multiple time scales.

The 6 new projects funded by IRAP in FY 18 are the following:

Using Global Sub-seasonal and Seasonal Forecasts to Map Chikungunya Risk

PI(s): Assaf Anyamba (Ph.D., Universities Space Research Association)

Co-PI(s): Wassila Thiaw (Ph.D., NOAA Climate Prediction Center)

Co-I(s): Radina Soebiyanto (Ph.D., Universities Space Research Association)

Collaborating Partner(s): Ed Argenta (Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency), Stephane De La Roque (World Health Organization (WHO) – WHO Health Emergencies Programme), Kenneth J. Linthicum (USDA-Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology), Whitney Qualls (Texas Department of Health)

This project’s purpose is to exploit existing climate data, chikungunya outbreak location data, and population data and combined with seasonal forecast information on temperature and precipitation extremes to monitor and forecast globally at seasonal time scale, areas at risk for chikungunya activity. The use of seasonal forecast information from NOAA-CPC is to enhance and add risk forecasting capability to our existing ongoing work – supporting the Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under Biosurveillance Ecosystem (BSVE) cloud environment – in which we are developing a Chikungunya App to collect information on locations where chikungunya has occurred and to map the current risk using climate data. We have set up a dedicated portal for access to forecast data from NOAA-CPC and developed code to systematically process the forecast data to a format that is suitable for app visualization and mathematical risk model development. We also continue to compile and geo-reference chikungunya outbreak data from ProMED Mail and Defense Health Agency.

Climate, Health, and Migration in Pacific Islands

PI(s): Laura Brewington (East-West Center)

Co-PI(s): Victoria Keener (East-West Center) and Matthew Widlansky (University of Hawaiʻi Sea Level Center)

Co-I(s):

Collaborating Partner(s): Daniel Ervin (East-West Center), John Marra (NOAA), Kristie Ebi (University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment), Maxine Burkett (University of Hawaiʻi School of Law), Mark Stege (Marshall Islands Conservation Society), Francyne Wase-Jacklick (Marshall Islands Ministry of Health and Human Services)

Residents of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in Micronesia are experiencing climate-related health impacts associated with drought (gastrointestinal illnesses and conjunctivitis), sea-level rise (loss of infrastructure, housing, and arable land), heat stress (chronic kidney disease), and flooding and extreme rainfall events (vector borne diseases including dengue and chikungunya). Non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, may be associated with declines in locally-produced food and available fish stocks. Mental health issues can result from the economic, physical, and cultural losses that are driven or exacerbated by climate change. With a population spread across 34 coral atolls and islands, the Marshall Islands’ healthcare systems are under-resourced and unprepared to confront these impacts. Professional capacity is already stretched to the limits. Meanwhile, overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions are further exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. In response to these complex and interacting factors, many Marshall Islands residents are relocating to other areas, including Hawaiʻi and the mainland United States. While the Compact of Free Association currently allows citizens of the Marshall Islands to migrate to the US without a visa, the agreement is set to expire in 2023 and the legal future of these migrants is uncertain.

Preliminary Pacific RISA work in the Marshall Islands and the US has found that the factors triggering human migration are complex, involving job opportunities, seeking healthcare and education, environmental changes, and visiting family – and crucially, these are often intertwined. Drought currently poses a greater threat than sea level rise and heat stress when it comes to Marshall Islanders who choose to migrate, and drought has dramatic direct and indirect impacts on human health through freshwater availability and agricultural productivity. Nevertheless, climate-related changes are expected to influence migration and health outcomes into the future throughout the Pacific Islands region, with implications for both sending and receiving locations. This project will use policy-oriented workshops and discussions in the Marshall Islands and Hawaiʻi to improve the use of climate information among health professionals, policy makers, and community organizations about the climate-related health risks that migrants may experience now or are expected to face in the future. Currently the team is analyzing survey data collected from 200 households across three locations in the Marshall Islands (Mejit, Maloelap, and Majuro) and 80 respondents in Hawaiʻi to further characterize migration decision-making in the context of health and climate change. Multiple workshops are planned for Majuro (summer 2019, spring 2020) and Hawaiʻi (2020) to strengthen existing partnerships providing climate information and aid to the health sector and improve knowledge uptake about climate change among migrant communities throughout the Pacific. On February 18, 2019 the Pacific RISA shared updates on this work at an international seminar “Aspirations and Livelihood Transitions of Migrants from the Pacific to Abroad” held in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, which brought together experts from the US, Japan, and Micronesia to discuss climate change, displacement, and policy recommendations in the Pacific Islands region.

Integrating Climate Information into Public Health Contexts: Co-Producing Decision Support Applications in Puerto Rico and Dominica

PI(s): Dr. Zack Guido (University of Arizona)

Co-PI(s): Benét Duncan and Jennifer Henderson (University of Colorado); Maureen Lichtveld (Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine); Simon Mason (IRI/Columbia University)

Co-I(s):

Collaborating Partner(s): Dr. Pablo Méndez-Lázaro ( University of Puerto Rico )

Variations in weather and climate and extreme events routinely affect public health outcomes by contributing to outbreaks of infectious diseases, stresses due to heatwaves, and the destruction of critical infrastructure. Recent advances in forecasting, monitoring, and awareness of impacts in both the health and climate sciences have created opportunities to better develop information resources that can help public health decision-makers manage weather and climate risks.

This project will work collaboratively with public health decision makers and partner organizations engaged in operational weather and climate services to increase resilience to weather and climate in Puerto Rico and Dominica. Specifically, the project team will use participatory workshop methods to engage decision-makers to identify, create, and tailor informational resources, or decision support tools. In the first year, two workshops will identify applications for new or existing information to build resilience. In the second year, the team will work with decision-makers in to develop a decision support tool. In so doing, the project team will investigate in these two case studies:

  • How weather and climate shapes public health decision-making;
  • The types of weather and climate information services that increase public health resilience;
  • The short-term benefits of creating of decision support tools for public health;
  • The challenges and opportunities the research team experienced in the transdisciplinary production of climate services.

The development of climate-informed decision-support tools for the prevention and control of Aedes-borne diseases in the US and transboundary regions

PI(s): Ángel G. Muñoz (International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) The Earth Institute at Columbia)

Co-PI(s): Dr. Madeleine Thomson, IRI/Columbia University; Patrick Kinney (CCRUN, Boston University); Laura Harrington (Cornell University; Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases - NEVBD CoE)

Co-I(s):

Collaborating Partner(s): María Diuk-Wasser (E3B-Columbia U.; NEVBD CoE) ; Sylvain Aldighieri/Ana Riviere-Cinnamond (PAHO/WHO); Erin Mordecai (Stanford U)

The team is co-developing a monitoring and forecasting system for environmental suitability of transmission of Aedes-borne diseases for the US and the Caribbean, using innovative state-of-the-art ento-epidemiological models, climate observations, and seasonal and sub-seasonal forecasts. After detailed predictive skill assessment and validation employing available observed information and consultation with our partners and other experts in the field, the team will help to gradually integrate the new system into decision-making frameworks, via targeted interactions with institutions, health policy makers, practitioners, and researchers in the US and Caribbean.

Use of Seasonal Climate Forecasts to Generate a Mosquito-borne Disease Forecasting System in Central America and the Caribbean.

PI(s): Cory Morin (University of Washington)

Co-PI(s): Samuel Sellers (University of Washington) and Kristie Ebi (University of Washington)

Co-I(s):

Collaborating Partner(s):

Aedes aegypti mosquito-transmitted pathogens (e.g. dengue and Zika viruses) are a major public health issue in Central America and the Caribbean. Public health campaigns including vector control programs (e.g. insecticide application), educational campaigns, and patient treatment, need to be effective and timely in order to maximize their success. Because meteorological conditions are a primary driver of mosquito population and virus transmission dynamics, there is the potential to use seasonal climate forecasts to identify where and when risk of mosquito-borne disease transmission is highest, thus facilitating the timely implementation of more efficient and targeted intervention strategies. While previous studies identified relationships between environmental conditions and vector-borne disease incidence, the research has not been used to develop and evaluate an operational tool that incorporates seasonal climate forecasts and generates products developed in collaboration with public health professionals. The goal of this project is to use seasonal climate forecasts and disease case observations to calculate and map climate-mediated dengue virus (DenV) transmission risk and to provide improved disease forecasts to partner decision makers in the Caribbean.

Our objectives include: 1) generating small scale seasonal forecast risk maps of DenV risk at 1- to 6-month lead times, 2) evaluating and applying the risk forecast maps for subnational disease predictions in partner countries, and 3) identifying methods to incorporate the risk maps and disease forecasts into mosquito-borne disease control programs in partner countries. Risk forecasts will be based on temperature-dependent rates of adult mosquito mortality and lengths of the extrinsic incubation period of DenV. We will identify areas with elevated risk by comparing the gridded forecast maps with similar maps generated using historical meteorological data. In-country case predictions at the subnational level will be generated using the risk maps in conjunction with recent and historic case observations collected by partner countries.

Safeguarding the health and well-being of communities vulnerable to extreme heat in the Southwestern U.S. and Northwestern Mexico transboundary region

PI(s): Tamara Wall (Desert Research Institute)

Co-PI(s): Kristin VanderMolen, Benjamin J. Hatchett, and Dr. Erick Bandala (Desert Research Institute)

Co-I(s):

Collaborating Partner(s):

The increase in extreme heat and heat waves over the last decades has prompted a corresponding increase in heat-related mortality and morbidity, including in parts of the Southwestern U.S. and Northwestern Mexico. Relatedly, National Weather Service (NWS) offices and public and nongovernmental health organizations have developed heat advisory and mitigative messaging programs intended to safeguard the public from heat-health impacts. Yet even when people are aware of an extreme heat episode they tend not to modify their behavior or practices, raising important questions about the effectiveness of existing messaging and the capacities of vulnerable populations to respond. The objective of the proposed project is to assess historical heat extremes and their predictability at seasonal-subseasonal scales to inform geographically and socioculturally specific recommendations for improving the efficacy of heat advisory and mitigative messaging to vulnerable populations. The project is sited within the transboundary region encompassing the border cities of San Diego-Tijuana and Calexico-Mexicali, each made highly economically interdependent by the migration of laborers exposed to episodes of extreme heat. The proposed project will realize this objective by: 1) examining the potential of seasonal-subseasonal climate projections to anticipate extreme heat and heat waves to inform messaging types and the communication of uncertainty; 2) generating vulnerability maps to identify populations vulnerable to heat-health impacts within each border city of study to enable targeted messaging; and 3) applying the Protective Action Decision Model to understanding the decision processes of the identified vulnerable populations leading to action/non-action to protect against extreme heat when warned. Together this information will be used to inform targeted recommendations for improving the efficacy of heat advisory and mitigative messaging to those most vulnerable within the area of study. The project will additionally apply the results in examination of possibilities for coordination of climate and weather services and/or other cooperative institutional partnerships (e.g., in health) for addressing heat-health impacts preemptively across the sites of study.

IRAP

Contact

Lisa Vaughan
Program Manager, International Research and Applications Project (IRAP)
P: 1 (301) 734-1277
F: 1 (301) 713-0518
E: lisa.vaughan@noaa.gov


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Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2017, the United States experienced a record-tying 16 climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 362 lives, and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted, costing more than $306 billion. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.

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