Our colleague Bob Bunting, meteorologist, professor, and former executive at both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), is CEO of the Climate Adaptation Center (CAC) here in Sarasota, Florida. Bob has contributed several guest commentaries to Cumberland in recent years, including “It’s Hot and Getting Hotter – The Case for Adaptive Strategies for a Warming Planet” (https://www.cumber.com/guest-commentary-by-bob-bunting-its-getting-hotter/).
Is There A COVID-19 Signal in Climate Data & Is It Potential Good News for Florida?
by Bob Bunting
The impact of climate on human health is a key focus area for the Climate Adaptation Center (CAC). One of the things we are looking at is how COVID-19 is distributing itself due to temperature and humidity and what that could mean for residents of Florida.
While it is too early to say, it appears thus far that the virus is spreading in a rather narrow climatic band across the world where temperatures range from 4–12°C and humidity ranges from 45–70%. This area covers a populated swath of the Northern Hemisphere and a very small swath of the Southern Hemisphere.
On the graphic above, we see the green belts depicting the zone where temperatures and humidity appear ideal for COVID-19 proliferation. Note that the zone in the Northern Hemisphere covers a large populated portion of our planet. Interestingly, the same belt is largely over the oceans in the Southern Hemisphere this time of year. There has been little spread there!
When COVID-19 broke out in Wuhan, China, it would have been normal to see the outbreak spread to Southeast Asia, where travel and trade with China are great, but it hasn’t happened to any great extent. Instead the virus spread to South Korea, Japan, and Iran… all in the green zone.
The spread to areas outside of the green belts isn’t zero, but the numbers are much lower so far. It’s still too early to call this a trend, but the next few weeks should add clarity. As spring takes hold in a big way in the next month and temperature and humidity increase, Florida will be a fascinating case. Florida is south of the present sweet spot, and we have a very large population of about 23 million. If the emerging trend I see holds, Florida could have far less transmission than cooler areas in the Pacific Northwest and Eastern Seaboard north of Florida, where more ideal climate conditions for the virus may exist.
In any event, flu is normally seasonal, and COVID-19’s relationship to the climatic band MAY indicate that COVID-19 is a seasonal flu-like illness, too. Wouldn’t this be a stroke of luck for Florida, the US and the world! We can watch and hope.
As I mentioned, the impact of climate on human health is a continuing focus area for the CAC. Our new enterprise is a tax-exempt institution and needs to raise $2 million to fully come on line. Our insights and knowledge applied to the great challenges of our time, including climate warming, can provide needed information for the private sector, government, academe, and the public. Please support our mission.
Bob Bunting, Atmospheric Scientist, Author, Educator, CEO
We thank Bob Bunting for allowing us to publish his above research titled, “Is There A COVID-19 Signal in Climate Data & Is It Potential Good News for Florida?”
Feel free to share this message to anyone who might be interested. Thank you.
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