Can You Forecast the Next Epidemic?

For Immediate Release

Contact :
Jesse Bell +1 828.257.3163
CICS-NC Communications Specialist:
Thomas Maycock +1 828.271.4272

Release Date: 06.08.2015

The Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites–North Carolina (CICS-NC) is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other Federal agencies on a new project designed to help predict outbreaks of dengue, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes that infects approximately 390 million people each year.

Because dengue outbreaks are related to environmental conditions, the hope is that climate, weather, and other environmental data can be used to provide advance warning of possible dengue outbreaks. This would allow healthcare providers to prepare for these outbreaks, significantly reducing the health impacts.

The project, which is open to anyone interested in participating, takes a crowd-sourcing approach to developing a dengue forecasting model. The project’s website provides historical data on both environmental conditions and actual dengue cases for two locations (San Juan, Puerto Rico and Iquitos, Peru). Participants will have several weeks to develop their forecasting model and then submit forecasts based on these initial “training” data sets. They will then receive a second set of data to use in testing the forecasting power of the models they’ve developed. Teams producing the most promising results will be invited to a meeting at the White House in the fall with representatives of the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Interagency Pandemic Prediction and Forecasting Science and Technology Working Group to discuss their work and potential next steps.

As part of CICS-NC’s mission to connect users and decision-makers with climate and weather data and research, CICS-NC’s Jesse Bell worked with colleagues Jessica Mathews, Jared Rennie, and Carl Schreck to develop and provide the environmental data used in this project. This effort is just the latest example of CICS-NC’s work at the important intersection of climate and human health.

More Information

See the following links for more information on the dengue forecasting project:

About the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-North Carolina:

CICS-NC, an activity of the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies (NCICS) hosted by NC State University, provides collaborative research in support of NOAA mission goals related to meteorological satellite and climate data and information research and development. CICS-NC’s scientific vision centers on observations from Earth-orbiting satellites and prediction using realistic mathematical models of the present and future behavior of the Earth System. NCICS is an inter-institutional research center of the University of North Carolina system, a focal point for climate science research, and a facilitator of regional economic development through its engagement activities.