Influence of satellite-derived rainfall patterns on plague occurrence in northeast Tanzania
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
International journal of health geographics. - London
, p. 1-10
University of Antwerp
Background In the tropics, rainfall data are seldom accurately recorded, and are often discontinuous in time. In the scope of plague-research in northeast Tanzania, we adapted previous research to reconstruct rainfall patterns at a suitable resolution (1 km), based on time series of NDVI: more accurate satellite imagery was used, in the form of MODIS NDVI, and rainfall data were collected from the TRMM sensors instead of in situ data. First, we established a significant relationship between monthly rainfall and monthly composited MODIS NDVI. The established linear relationship was then used to reconstruct historic precipitation patterns over a mountainous area in northeastern Tanzania. Results We validated the resulting precipitation estimates with in situ rainfall time series of three meteorological stations located in the study area. Taking the region's topography into account, a correlation coefficient of 0.66 was obtained for two of the three meteorological stations. Our results suggest that the adapted strategy can be applied fruitfully to estimate rainfall variability and seasonality, despite the underestimation of overall rainfall rates. Based on this model, rainfall in previous years (1986) is modelled to obtain a dataset with which we can compare plague occurrence in the area. A positive correlation of 82% is obtained between high rainfall rates and plague incidence with a two month lag between rainfall and plague cases. Conclusions We conclude that the obtained results are satisfactory in support of the human plague research in which this study is embedded, and that this approach can be applied in other studies with similar goals.