Climate Change and Health

Dr dung phungDr Dung Phung leads the Climate Change and Health team at QAEHS, playing a key role in improving public health through research, education, advocacy and training on the health impacts of climate change. His focus lies in addressing the health implications of climate change and exploring optimal strategies for improvement through adaptation and mitigation efforts.   

Meet the Climate Change and Health research team.

Climate change brings more frequent and intense extreme weather events (e.g., flooding, drought and heatwaves). The team studies the impact of these environmental changes on population health. Additionally, the research aims to benefit vulnerable populations such as the elderly population, children, outdoor workers, and people living in regions or communities disproportionately affected by climate change consequences.

Research in this theme currently investigates a range of health impacts related to extreme heat including but not limited to heatwave related mortality, effects on pregnancy and birth outcomes and effectiveness of heat-health early warning systems in reducing heat-related health risk. Interventions applying practical cooling solutions in relation to heat-related illnesses, morbidity and mortality among vulnerable populations are also being researched.

Heat alert warning systems are often utilised for extreme heat temperatures however, more research is needed to examine how lower heat intensities could also potentially affect human health risks. Our research also shows there is a need to develop a heat vulnerability index (HVI) to identify vulnerable groups and integrate HVI into the early warning systems for future public health interventions. Heat exposures, sociodemographic factors, chronic health status, housing conditions and green vegetation levels in the population should all be considered in the vulnerability assessment.

Current Research Projects

The Effects of Maternal Exposure to Elevated Ambient Temperature on Adverse Birth Outcomes in Queensland, Australia

Current HDR Student Projects

Spatiotemporal Evaluation of Human Heat-Health Vulnerability in Australia


Research into the impact of climate change on population health will enhance the preparedness and resilience of health systems in order to effectively respond to and address the consequences, such as the elevated risk of climate-sensitive infectious diseases.

Climate change has caused and will continue to cause an increase in climate-sensitive infectious diseases (CSID), including vector-borne, food-born, and water-borne diseases. For instance, increasing temperatures enhance vector-borne disease transmission by increasing vector survival and feeding activity, increasing the replication rate of both the vector and the pathogen within the vector, and lengthening the transmission seasons. Climate-informed statistical models can be used to develop digital tools to forecast CSID outbreaks at different spatiotemporal resolutions. Such tools, integrated into disease surveillance systems, can provide the lead time needed for the public health sector to thwart predicted outbreaks by proactively implementing preventive measures, in partnership with communities. How to develop and use the tools effectively is also being studied by Dr. Phung’s team.

Current Research Projects

A user-friendly digital prediction tool for dengue prevention