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Predicting Weather

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Meteorological Malaria
Teacher Contributed

Meteorological Malaria

Why It Matters

Can we predict the spread of malaria just as we predict the weather?

Meteorologists are challenged on a daily basis to tell us whether to wear our sunscreen and shorts or to bring an umbrella with us when we leave the house. Nowadays, we expect them to be able to predict the weather a week or two out. Are our expectations going too far when we ask them to also predict the patterns of a disease spreading? Scientists have been looking at weather satellite images to plot the spread of malaria through Africa. Check it out:

For further information about this area of research, read this article: http://www.earth.columbia.edu/news/2006/story01-31-06.html

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  1. Based on the video and article, what evidence from the satellite images do they use to make predictions of the spread of malaria? What is the connection between those strands of data and the spread of malaria?
  2. Is this a fool-proof measure? Are there other parts of the world that have similar weather conditions and do not show evidence of the spread of malaria? How could the current prediction process be improved to limit the uncertainty?
  3. Scientists found a strong connection between weather patterns and the spread of malaria. Could weather data be used to learn more about some other field of interest? Brainstorm how else we could be using weather data?

Resources Cited

NOAA. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYg2pPVNivQ&feature=player_embedded

The Earth Institute. Columbia University. http://www.earth.columbia.edu/news/2006/story01-31-06.html

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