Jury M.R.

Climate influence on dengue epidemics in Puerto Rico

Jury, M., 2008: Climate influences on dengue epidemics in Puerto
Rico. Int. J. Environ. Health Res., 18, 323–334.

The variability of the insect-borne disease dengue in Puerto Rico was studied in relation to climatic variables in the period 1979–2005. Annual and monthly reported dengue cases were compared with precipitation and temperature data. Results show that the incidence of dengue in Puerto Rico was relatively constant over time despite global warming, possibly due to the offsetting effects of declining rainfall, improving health care and little change in population. Seasonal fluctuations of dengue were driven by rainfall increases from May to November. Year-to-year variability in dengue cases was positively related to temperature, but only weakly associated with local rainfall and an index of El Nin˜ o Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Climatic conditions were mapped with respect to dengue cases and patterns in high and low years were compared. During epidemics, a low pressure system east of Florida draws warm humid air over the northwestern Caribbean. Long-term trends in past observed and future projected rainfall and temperatures were studied. Rainfall has declined slowly, but temperatures in the Caribbean are rising with the influence of global warming. Thus, dengue may increase in the future, and it will be necessary to anticipate dengue epidemics using climate forecasts, to reduce adverse health impacts.

Low Atlantic hurricane activity in the 1970s and 1980s compared to the past 270 years

Nyberg, J., B. A. Malmgren, A. Winter, M. R.
Jury, K. H. Kilbourne, and T. M. Quinn
(2007), Low Atlantic hurricane activity in the
1970s and 1980s compared to the past 270
years, Nature, 447, 698–701.

Hurricane activity in the North Atlantic Ocean has increased significantly since 1995 (refs 1, 2). This trend has been attributed to both anthropogenically induced climate change3 and natural variability1, but the primary cause remains uncertain. Changes in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the past can provide insights into the factors that influence hurricane activity, but reliable observations of hurricane activity in the North Atlantic only cover the past few decades2. Here we construct a record of the frequency of major Atlantic hurricanes over the past 270 years using proxy records of vertical wind shear and sea surface temperature (the main controls on the formation of major hurricanes in this region1,3–5) from corals and a marine sediment core. The record indicates that the average frequency of major hurricanes decreased gradually from the 1760s until the early 1990s, reaching anomalously low values during the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, the phase of enhanced hurricane activity since 1995 is not unusual compared to other periods of high hurricane activity in the record and thus appears to represent a recovery to normal hurricane activity, rather than a direct response to increasing sea surface temperature. Comparison of the record with a reconstruction of vertical wind shear indicates that variability in this parameter primarily controlled the frequency of major hurricanes in the Atlantic over the past 270 years, suggesting that changes in the magnitude of vertical wind shear will have a significant influence on future hurricane activity.
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