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Climate change unlikely to increase malaria burden in West Africa

Abstract

The impact of climate change on malaria transmission has been hotly debated. Recent conclusions have been drawn using relatively simple biological models and statistical approaches with inconsistent predictions. Consequently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5) echoes this uncertainty, with no clear guidance for the impacts of climate change on malaria transmission, yet recognizing a strong association between local climate and malaria. Here, we present results from a decade-long study involving field observations and a sophisticated model simulating village-scale transmission. We drive the malaria model using select climate models that correctly reproduce historical West African climate, and project reduced malaria burden in a western sub-region and insignificant impact in an eastern sub-region. Projected impacts of climate change on malaria transmission in this region are not of serious concern.

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