Air temperature suitability for Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission in Africa 2000-2012: A high-resolution spatiotemporal prediction

Daniel J. Weiss, Samir Bhatt, Bonnie Mappin, Thomas P. Van Boeckel, David L. Smith, Simon I. Hay, Peter W. Gething

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: Temperature suitability for malaria transmission is a useful predictor variable for spatial models of malaria infection prevalence. Existing continental or global models, however, are synoptic in nature and so do not characterize inter-annual variability in seasonal patterns of temperature suitability, reducing their utility for predicting malaria risk. Methods. A malaria Temperature Suitability Index (TSI) was created by first modeling minimum and maximum air temperature with an eight-day temporal resolution from gap-filled MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) daytime and night-time Land Surface Temperature (LST) datasets. An improved version of an existing biological model for malaria temperature suitability was then applied to the resulting temperature information for a 13-year data series. The mechanism underlying this biological model is simulation of emergent mosquito cohorts on a two-hour time-step and tracking of each cohort throughout its life to quantify the impact air temperature has on both mosquito survival and sporozoite development. Results: The results of this research consist of 154 monthly raster surfaces that characterize spatiotemporal patterns in TSI across Africa from April 2000 through December 2012 at a 1 km spatial resolution. Generalized TSI patterns were as expected, with consistently high values in equatorial rain forests, seasonally variable values in tropical savannas (wet and dry) and montane areas, and low values in arid, subtropical regions. Comparisons with synoptic approaches demonstrated the additional information available within the dynamic TSI dataset that is lost in equivalent synoptic products derived from long-term monthly averages. Conclusions: The dynamic TSI dataset presented here provides a new product with far richer spatial and temporal information than any other presently available for Africa. As spatiotemporal malaria modeling endeavors evolve, dynamic predictor variables such as the malaria temperature suitability data developed here will be essential for the rational assessment of changing patterns of malaria risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number171
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 3 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Temperature suitability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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