skip to main content

Title: Micro-climate to macro-risk: mapping fine scale differences in mosquito-borne disease risk using remote sensing

Mosquito-borne diseases (MBD) threaten over 80% of the world’s population, and are increasing in intensity and shifting in geographical range with land use and climate change. Mitigation hinges on understanding disease-specific risk profiles, but current risk maps are severely limited in spatial resolution. One important determinant of MBD risk is temperature, and though the relationships between temperature and risk have been extensively studied, maps are often created using sparse data that fail to capture microclimatic conditions. Here, we leverage high resolution land surface temperature (LST) measurements, in conjunction with established relationships between air temperature and MBD risk factors like mosquito biting rate and transmission probability, to produce fine resolution (70 m) maps of MBD risk components. We focus our case study on West Nile virus (WNV) in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where temperatures vary widely across the day and the diverse agricultural/urban landscape. We first use field measurements to establish a relationship between LST and air temperature, and apply it to Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment data (2018–2020) in peak WNV transmission months (June–September). We then use the previously derived equations to estimate spatially explicit mosquito biting and WNV transmission rates. We use these maps to uncover more » significant differences in risk across land cover types, and identify the times of day which contribute to high risk for different land covers. Additionally, we evaluate the value of high resolution spatial and temporal data in avoiding biased risk estimates due to Jensen’s inequality, and find that using aggregate data leads to significant biases of up to 40.5% in the possible range of risk values. Through this analysis, we show that the synergy between novel remote sensing technology and fundamental principles of disease ecology can unlock new insights into the spatio-temporal dynamics of MBDs.

« less
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2042526 2011147
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 124014
IOP Publishing
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Wen, Feng (Ed.)
    Background Since 1999, West Nile virus (WNV) has moved rapidly across the United States, resulting in tens of thousands of human cases. Both the number of human cases and the minimum infection rate (MIR) in vector mosquitoes vary across time and space and are driven by numerous abiotic and biotic forces, ranging from differences in microclimates to socio-demographic factors. Because the interactions among these multiple factors affect the locally variable risk of WNV illness, it has been especially difficult to model human disease risk across varying spatial and temporal scales. Cook and DuPage Counties, comprising the city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs, experience some of the highest numbers of human neuroinvasive cases of WNV in the United States. Despite active mosquito control efforts, there is consistent annual WNV presence, resulting in more than 285 confirmed WNV human cases and 20 deaths from the years 2014–2018 in Cook County alone. Methods A previous Chicago-area WNV model identified the fifty-five most high and low risk locations in the Northwest Mosquito Abatement District (NWMAD), an enclave ¼ the size of the combined Cook and DuPage county area. In these locations, human WNV risk was stratified by model performance, as indicated by differences inmore »studentized residuals. Within these areas, an additional two-years of field collections and data processing was added to a 12-year WNV dataset that includes human cases, MIR, vector abundance, and land-use, historical climate, and socio-economic and demographic variables, and was assessed by an ultra-fine-scale (1 km spatial x 1 week temporal resolution) multivariate logistic regression model. Results Multivariate statistical methods applied to the ultra-fine-scale model identified fewer explanatory variables while improving upon the fit of the previous model. Beyond MIR and climatic factors, efforts to acquire additional covariates only slightly improved model predictive performance. Conclusions These results suggest human WNV illness in the Chicago area may be associated with fewer, but increasingly critical, key variables at finer scales. Given limited resources, these findings suggest large variations in model performance occur, depending on covariate availability, and provide guidance in variable selection for optimal WNV human illness modeling.« less
  2. High-quality temperature data at a finer spatio-temporal scale is critical for analyzing the risk of heat exposure and hazards in urban environments. The variability of urban landscapes makes cities a challenging environment for quantifying heat exposure. Most of the existing heat hazard studies have inherent limitations on two fronts; first, the spatio-temporal granularities are too coarse, and second, the inability to track the ambient air temperature (AAT) instead of land surface temperature (LST). Overcoming these limitations requires developing models for mapping the variability in heat exposure in urban environments. We investigated an integrated approach for mapping urban heat hazards by harnessing a diverse set of high-resolution measurements, including both ground-based and satellite-based temperature data. We mounted vehicle-borne mobile sensors on city buses to collect high-frequency temperature data throughout 2018 and 2019. Our research also incorporated key biophysical parameters and Landsat 8 LST data into Random Forest regression modeling to map the hyperlocal variability of heat hazard over areas not covered by the buses. The vehicle-borne temperature sensor data showed large temperature differences within the city, with the largest variations of up to 10 °C and morning-afternoon diurnal changes at a magnitude around 20 °C. Random Forest modeling on noontime (11:30more »am – 12:30 pm) data to predict AAT produced accurate results with a mean absolute error of 0.29 °C and successfully showcased the enhanced granularity in urban heat hazard mapping. These maps revealed well-defined hyperlocal variabilities in AAT, which were not evident with other research approaches. Urban core and dense residential areas revealed larger than 5 °C AAT differences from their nearby green spaces. The sensing framework developed in this study can be easily implemented in other urban areas, and findings from this study will be beneficial in understanding the heat vulnerabilities of individual communities. It can be used by the local government to devise targeted hazard mitigation efforts such as increasing green space, developing better heatsafety policies, and exposure warning for workers.« less
  3. The urban heat island (UHI) effect, the phenomenon by which cities are warmer than rural surroundings, is increasingly important in a rapidly urbanizing and warming world, but fine-scale differences in temperature within cities are difficult to observe accurately. Networks of air temperature (Tair) sensors rarely offer the spatial density needed to capture neighborhood-level disparities in warming, while satellite measures of land surface temperature (LST) do not reflect the air temperatures that people physically experience. This analysis combines both Tair measurements recorded by a spatially-dense stationary sensor network in Dane County, Wisconsin, and remotely-sensed measurements of LST over the same area—to improve the use and interpretation of LST in UHI studies. The data analyzed span three summer months (June, July, and August) and eight years (2012–2019). Overall, Tair and LST displayed greater agreement in spatial distribution than in magnitude. The relationship between day of the year and correlation was fit to a parabolic curve (R2 = 0.76, p = 0.0002) that peaked in late July. The seasonal evolution in the relationship between Tair and LST, along with particularly high variability in LST across agricultural land cover suggest that plant phenology contributes to a seasonally varying relationship between Tair and LST measurementsmore »of the UHI.« less
  4. Abstract. Land surface temperature (LST) is one of the most important and widely used parameters for studying land surface processes. Moderate ResolutionImaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) LST products (e.g., MOD11A1 and MYD11A1) can provide this information with moderate spatiotemporal resolution withglobal coverage. However, the applications of these data are hampered because of missing values caused by factors such as cloud contamination,indicating the necessity to produce a seamless global MODIS-like LST dataset, which is still not available. In this study, we used a spatiotemporalgap-filling framework to generate a seamless global 1 km daily (mid-daytime and mid-nighttime) MODIS-like LST dataset from 2003 to 2020based on standard MODIS LST products. The method includes two steps: (1) data pre-processing and (2) spatiotemporal fitting. In the datapre-processing, we filtered pixels with low data quality and filled gaps using the observed LST at another three time points of the same day. In thespatiotemporal fitting, first we fitted the temporal trend (overall mean) of observations based on the day of year (independent variable) in eachpixel using the smoothing spline function. Then we spatiotemporally interpolated residuals between observations and overall mean values for eachday. Finally, we estimated missing values of LST by adding the overall mean and interpolated residuals. The results show thatmore »the missing values inthe original MODIS LST were effectively and efficiently filled with reduced computational cost, and there is no obvious block effect caused by largeareas of missing values, especially near the boundary of tiles, which might exist in other seamless LST datasets. The cross-validation withdifferent missing rates at the global scale indicates that the gap-filled LST data have high accuracies with the average root mean squared error(RMSE) of 1.88 and 1.33∘, respectively, for mid-daytime (13:30) and mid-nighttime (01:30). The seamless global daily (mid-daytime andmid-nighttime) LST dataset at a 1 km spatial resolution is of great use in global studies of urban systems, climate research and modeling,and terrestrial ecosystem studies. The data are available at Iowa State University's DataShare at (T. Zhanget al., 2021).« less
  5. Abstract The transmission of vector-borne diseases is governed by complex factors including pathogen characteristics, vector–host interactions, and environmental conditions. Temperature is a major driver for many vector-borne diseases including Bluetongue viral (BTV) disease, a midge-borne febrile disease of ruminants, notably livestock, whose etiology ranges from mild or asymptomatic to rapidly fatal, thus threatening animal agriculture and the economy of affected countries. Using modeling tools, we seek to predict where the transmission can occur based on suitable temperatures for BTV. We fit thermal performance curves to temperature-sensitive midge life-history traits, using a Bayesian approach. We incorporate these curves into S ( T ), a transmission suitability metric derived from the disease’s basic reproductive number, $$R_0.$$ R 0 . This suitability metric encompasses all components that are known to be temperature-dependent. We use trait responses for two species of key midge vectors, Culicoides sonorensis and Culicoides variipennis present in North America. Our results show that outbreaks of BTV are more likely between 15 $$^{\circ }$$ ∘ C and $$34^{\circ }\hbox { C}$$ 34 ∘ C , with predicted peak transmission risk at 26 $$^\circ$$ ∘  C. The greatest uncertainty in S ( T ) is associated with the following: the uncertainty inmore »mortality and fecundity of midges near optimal temperature for transmission; midges’ probability of becoming infectious post-infection at the lower edge of the thermal range; and the biting rate together with vector competence at the higher edge of the thermal range. We compare three model formulations and show that incorporating thermal curves into all three leads to similar BTV risk predictions. To demonstrate the utility of this modeling approach, we created global suitability maps indicating the areas at high and long-term risk of BTV transmission, to assess risk and to anticipate potential locations of disease establishment.« less