Biological and Physical Signs of Climate Change: Focus on Mosquito-borne Diseases

Paul R. Epstein*, Henry F. Diaz, Scott Elias, Georg Grabherr, Nicholas E. Graham, Willem J.M. Martens, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Joel Susskind

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that there is "discernible evidence" that humans - through accelerating changes in multiple forcing factors - have begun to alter the earth's climate regime. Such conclusions are based primarily upon so-called "fingerprint" studies, namely the warming pattern in the midtroposphere in the Southern Hemisphere, the disproportionate rise in nighttime and winter temperatures, and the statistical increase in extreme weather events in many nations. All three aspects of climate change and climate variability have biological implications. Detection of climate change has also drawn upon data from glacial records that indicate a general retreat of tropical summit glaciers. Here the authors examine biological (plant and insect) data, glacial findings, and temperature records taken at high-elevation, mountainous regions. It is concluded that, at high elevations, the overall trends regarding glaciers, plants, insect range, and shifting isotherms show remarkable internal consistency, and that there is consistency between model projections and the ongoing changes. There are implications for public health as well as for developing an interdisciplinary approach to the detection of climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-417
Number of pages9
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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