Climate change can influence the transmission of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) through altering the habitat suitability of insect vectors. Here we present global climate model simulations and evaluate the associated uncertainties in view of the main meteorological factors that may affect the distribution of the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which can transmit pathogens that cause chikungunya, dengue fever, yellow fever and various encephalitides. Using a general circulation model at 50 km horizontal resolution to simulate mosquito survival variables including temperature, precipitation and relative humidity, we present both global and regional projections of the habitat suitability up to the middle of the twenty-first century. The model resolution of 50 km allows evaluation against previous projections for Europe and provides a basis for comparative analyses with other regions. Model uncertainties and performance are addressed in light of the recent CMIP5 ensemble climate model simulations for the RCP8.5 concentration pathway and using meteorological re-analysis data (ERA-Interim/ECMWF) for the recent past. Uncertainty ranges associated with the thresholds of meteorological variables that may affect the distribution of Ae. albopictus are diagnosed using fuzzy-logic methodology, notably to assess the influence of selected meteorological criteria and combinations of criteria that influence mosquito habitat suitability. From the climate projections for 2050, and adopting a habitat suitability index larger than 70%, we estimate that approximately 2.4 billion individuals in a land area of nearly 20 million km2 will potentially be exposed to Ae. albopictus. The synthesis of fuzzy-logic based on mosquito biology and climate change analysis provides new insights into the regional and global spreading of VBDs to support disease control and policy making.
One contribution of 14 to a theme issue ‘Climate change and vector-borne diseases of humans’.
© 2015 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.