Coronavirus and the climate: C3S helps health experts explore how temperature and humidity affect virus spread

With each new day, the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Europe’s health and economy becomes more evident, but we are also getting better at coping with this virus as we learn more about its behaviour. Recent research suggests that the spread of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) could be affected by temperature and humidity, so the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S*) has worked with environmental software experts B-Open to develop an application that maps mortalities against temperature and humidity data.

Virus outbreaks often show seasonal cycles and it is possible that coronavirus could display the same behaviour. Seasonal cycles are linked to a number of factors, with temperature and humidity being two of the most prominent environmental elements.

C3S provides historic, current and future data on temperature and humidity up to a resolution of 12 kilometres over land. In mid-March, the service asked B-Open to develop an application that maps these data against the locations of deaths from COVID-19 – the disease associated with coronavirus – for January, February and March 2020. The mortality information was provided by Johns Hopkins University.

“The application allows health authorities and epidemiology centres to explore the claims that temperature and humidity could affect the spread of coronavirus,” explains Director of C3S, Carlo Buontempo. “Whether the role of the climate is important or not, it is our responsibility to provide easy access to this information, as it could be useful for learning more about coronavirus and may play a small part in helping authorities to implement effective measures.”

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