Health

Understanding how human health might be affected by climate change and variability.

Drawing on world-leading research, scientists and health professionals at the Met Office are playing a key role on the national and international stages, developing an understanding of the links between climate change and the health of people around the world.

Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and more extreme weather events could influence quality of lives and longevity, wherever we live. Climate change will influence nearly every aspect of our lives, from the type of food that we grow and eat to the availability of the water we drink, from the way we modify our homes to keep them cool to deciding where to build new accommodation for a growing and moving population. Cross-cutting all of these themes, linking climate change with food, water, sanitation, shelter and migration, is health.

In 2009, the Met Office contributed to the Health Practitioner's Guide to Climate change. Focusing on the health benefits that can be realised by facing the challenges of, and adapting to, a warming world, it is hoped that the publication will be a particularly useful reference for anyone involved in the health sector. Joining forces with other leading organisations in the field, the Met Office Hadley Centre authored the first chapter, which concentrates on the science behind climate change, a theme that runs through the rest of the book.

Our understanding of the relationship between the weather, climate and health has developed greatly over recent years. Current work is focusing on taking this a step further to identify practical measures that can be taken to safeguard our health in the face of climate change.

Key aims

  • Building on a number of successful years of health forecasting, we are now developing our expertise in health and climate modelling. By investigating the links between health and well-being and long-term climate change/shorter-term climate variability, we can help people identify the risks and opportunities that lie ahead.

  • Provide advice to healthcare professionals and policymakers, enabling robust, risk-based decision making in climate adaptation.

  • Support specialists and researchers in the health sector with the most up-to-date climate science and expert interpretation.

Current projects

  • Can Bayesian statistical techniques aid decision making in the health sector?

  • Will admissions due to COPD alter with climate change and variability?

  • Creating a global data set quantifying heat stress over land for recent decades enabling historical heat extremes and aid future heat-stress forecasting.

  • Supplying climate change training to public health professionals.

Last updated: 5 January 2011