Ticks are bad enough now, but researchers worry climate change may make things worse
As if the region's problem with ticks isn't bad enough, the anticipated change in climate may make a bad situation worse. Climate professionals are concerned that global warming may make conditions more favorable to the disease-carrying ticks.
"A warming world is going to change where habitats are suitable for disease-carrying ticks," reports climatematters.org.
Researchers for the organization say as temperatures climb from the increase in greenhouse gases, there is an increase in overall humidity. In a recent study, deer ticks died faster when relative humidity was moderate (75 percent), but survived longer under high humidity (85 percent to 95 percent).
The northeast is becoming increasingly more humid. The Environmental Protection Agency says that incidents of Lyme Disease, which is spread by ticks, has doubled since 1991. Northern New England states, including New Hampshire, have experienced the highest increase.
According to GlobalChange.gov, "Climate change is likely to have both short- and long-term effects on vector-borne disease transmission and infection patterns, affecting both seasonal risk and broad geographic changes in disease occurrence over decades."
Additionally, it reported that climate change will "likely interact with many other factors, including how pathogens adapt and change, the availability of hosts, changing ecosystems and land use, demographics, human behavior and adaptive capacity."
Disease-carrying ticks will probably be active earlier and move further north as temperatures rise.
The Environmental Protection Agency says climate change may bring heavy rainstorms and record high temperatures.
According to EPA data provided by NOAA, the Palmer Drought Index shows it has been wetter than average over the last 50 years across the country.
The EPA says as the average temperature rises, evaporation speeds up. Water become available in the air for precipitation but some land areas become drier.
The EPA reports "since 1901, precipitation has increased at an average of 0.08 inches per decade over land areas worldwide."
Non-climate factors such as an increased deer population, more time being spent outside by people and increased development near woodlands are other contributing factors that can increase coming into contact with ticks.