CLINF: Climate-change effects on the epidemiology of infectious diseases and the impacts on Northern societies

Climate change is first and foremost felt in the northern regions where the rate and magnitude are the greatest. What happens in the Arctic will impact the rest of the world. In a changing climate, ecological alterations will affect the geographical boundaries of microorganisms with the capacity to cause diseases in humans and animals. Most of the climate sensitive infections are zoonoses - transmitted between animals and humans. Important vector and reservoir animals such as ticks, badgers and roe deer are expanding their geographical distribution as a result of climate change. Many northern societies depend on animal husbandry, such as sheep and reindeer herding, hunting, fishing and tourism for their livelihoods. Animals also play a central role in culture, art and world views. Therefore, these societies will have to deal with the challenges climate change pose concerning health but also in the view of how to make their living and to their cultural values. CLINF will address these threats by contributing valuable information on strategies to ensure socio-economic development and viable communities in the North. Climate impacts on the health of both humans and animals have not yet been fully studied, and in this project health is the main focus in terms of health statistics, economic impacts and with gender and traditional knowledge as integrated factors.

The potential health-effects of climate change are complex. The CLINF consortium engages a multi-disciplinary scientific team, with broad collaboration, to develop our present knowledge about impacts and adaptive measures to deal with climate sensitive infections. Also CLINF connect to already existing networks and field stations in the north. The overall CLINF objective is two-fold and will contribute to: strategies for sustainable development, and to the development of surveillance programs for selected infectious disease. An early warning system for emerging infections at the local level is desired, to be implemented throughout the North. Ecological changes may preclude infections in animals and humans. CLINF will enhance the performance of regional Earth-process models of climate change effects on the environment, develop an adequate assessment of societal risk, and produce new map- and data-products of current and projected geographic spread of climate sensitive infections. The results will be made accessible to decision-makers, scientists and the public and disseminated in lay terms.