PNAS | March 4, 2014 | vol. 111 | no. 9
Malaria is an important disease that has a global distribution and significant health burden. The spatial limits of its distribution and seasonal activity are sensitive to climate factors, as well as the local capacity to control the disease. Malaria is also one of the few health outcomes that has been modeled by more than one research group and can therefore facilitate the first model intercomparison for health impacts under a future with climate change. We used bias-corrected temperature and rainfall simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 climate models to compare the metrics of five statistical and dynamical malaria impact models for three future time periods (2030s, 2050s, and 2080s). We evaluated three malaria outcome metrics at global and regional levels: climate suitability, additional population at risk and additional person-months at risk across the model outputs. The malaria projections were based on five different global climate models, each run under four emission scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways, RCPs) and a single population projection. We also investigated the modeling uncertainty associated with future projections of populations at risk for malaria owing to climate change. Our findings show an overall global net increase in climate suitability and a net increase in the population at risk, but with large uncertainties. The model outputs indicate a net increase in the annual person-months at risk when comparing from RCP2.6 to RCP8.5 from the 2050s to the 2080s. The malaria outcome metrics were highly sensitive to the choice of malaria impact model, especially over the epidemic fringes of the malaria distribution.