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12 APR 2019 (FRI) 12:30-13:30

Updated: Apr 17, 2019

An Exploratory Analysis of the Health Impacts in South Pacific Island Countries of the 2015-2016 El Niño Event

Map Library, Room 10.10, 10/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong

Professor Glenn McGregor Department of Geography, Durham University, UK

About the Speaker:

Glenn’s research explores the relationship between atmospheric circulation and surface environmental processes and the extent to which weather patterns, air mass types and modes of atmospheric circulation (e.g. ENSO, NAO) might influence the intra-seasonal to inter-annual variability of health outcomes. This interest manifests itself most strongly in the field of Biometeorology, the discipline concerned with understanding the relationship between atmospheric processes and living organisms. Actively involved in climate and health research he has recently published a number of valuable overviews on ‘heat and health’, ‘humidity a primer for public health researchers’ and ‘El Nino Southern Oscillation and Health: an overview for climate and health researchers’. Glenn is the former World Meteorological Organisation’s Lead Expert for Climate and Health, and member of the Shanghai Bureau of Meteorology’s Meteorology and Health Lab, previous Chief Editor of the International Journal of Climatology and President of the International Society of Biometeorology and a past and current (6AR) IPCC Working Group II lead author. Glenn was also lead editor for the widely consulted WMO/WHO publication ‘Heatwaves and Health: Guidance on Warning-System Development’ and is currently on the editorial boards for Weather and Climate Extremes and Anthropocene and is a member of Public Health England’s Health Protection Unit’s Research Advisory Board. Currently Professor of Climatology in the Department of Geography at Durham University in the UK, Glenn has held posts at the University of Auckland in New Zealand where he was Director of the School of Environment, King’s College London, University of Birmingham, Hong Kong Baptist University, the University of Papua New Guinea and the Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Japan. He graduated with his PhD from Canterbury University, NZ following obtaining a MSc (1st Class) and BSc from the University of Auckland, NZ.


El Niño has a strong and varied impact on environmental conditions across the Pacific region leading to a range of climate extremes. Such extremes possess the potential to exact a heavy toll on Pacific Island Countries (PICs), especially in relation to population health. This is of utmost concern as PICs are amongst those most vulnerable to variations in climate because of a high burden of ill-health and the limited capacity of health systems to respond and adapt to climate risks as posed by events such as El Niño. Given this, the potential impacts of the recent 2015-2016 El Niño on people's health in PICs, as affected by a range of possible diseases (e.g. diarrhoea and dengue fever) could be significant. The overarching aim of this presentation therefore is to present the outcome of an exploratory analysis of the health impacts in PICs of the 2015-2016 El Niño event by exploring whether significant anomalies of disease incidence across a number of PICs are related to unequivocal departures of a range of health sensitive climate fields from the “normal” climate state. In doing so, the paper will assess the utility of disease incidence data collected via the Pacific Syndromic Surveillance System (PSSS; weekly data) for establishing El Niño related health impacts and describe some of the methodological and analytical challenges confronted in assembling an integrated climate and health data set for establishing climate related health impacts.


Places are limited & prior registration is encouraged.



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