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Environmental Data for Infectious Disease Research

NOAA provides resources for studying the effects of environmental factors on diseases, such as COVID-19

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Courtesy of Pixabay.com

NOAA NCEI is providing data to a newly released Climate.gov resource that is designed to help researchers understand how the COVID-19 virus—and other infectious diseases—may be affected by environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and solar radiation. 

An Unprecedented Research Need

Health experts have long known that weather and climate factors can influence outbreaks of some infectious diseases. but the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to connect health researchers with high-quality climate and weather data to assist in their understanding of how environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, might influence the geographic spread of the disease or result in seasonal patterns of outbreaks.   

Scientists in the climate and weather fields have developed many environmental datasets that could help address those unknowns. However, a significant challenge for health experts is knowing where to find these datasets, determining the appropriate datasets for their needs, and how to access and use them.

To help bridge the gap between these research communities, a multidisciplinary team of experts from NCEI, the Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS), and NOAA's OneHealth team worked together to provide researchers—particularly the infectious disease modeling community—with an authoritative reference to existing datasets that would help them identify and access the data best-suited to their needs.

This Climate.gov web page provides links and information for datasets from NOAA, other U.S. agencies, and research organizations from around the world. The collection includes observational weather datasets at various frequencies, reanalysis datasets that combine observations with model outputs, short-term forecasts, and long-term projections from climate models. The web page also includes a reference list of example research.

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