Current research projects (2019-2023)
Climate impacts on zoonotic disease trends in the warming Arctic
Climate change is warming the Arctic at double (in some places, triple) the global rate, and the effects of climate change are already obvious, like coastal erosion and heat domes. But some changes are subtle, like a shift in the migratory route of wildlife that increases their exposure to parasites, or an increase in the activity and abundance of a mosquito. These subtle changes can have profound effects on food security and transmission of zoonotic diseases. Overall, we expect climate change to enhance the survival and development of parasites and vectors, and increase transmission through water-borne routes, from melting permafrost as well as surface water. This suggests that food, water, and vector-borne zoonoses will become more of a problem for animal and human health in the Arctic. However, climate change is not uniform, and there is often a mismatch in scale between global climate change models and the meaningful level for disease transmission. We will synthesize a decade of data on food, water, and vector borne diseases collected in partnership with communities across the Canadian Arctic and Alaska, combining state-of-the-art epidemiological models with detailed climate-linked models of disease transmission to describe current and future trends in zoonotic disease risk in the North American Arctic. Climate change adaptation requires reliable information about current and future health risks for arctic communities. This unique synthesis provides both, identifying trends in future zoonotic disease risk relevant for developing adaptation strategies, wildlife management, and public health policy across the Circumpolar Arctic.