News / Science & Technology

Scientists Identify Way to Predict Heat Waves

Roofers take their lunch break in the shade of a tree in rural Ashland, Nebraska, Aug. 27, 2013, as a late summer heat wave sends temperatures into the high 90s.
Roofers take their lunch break in the shade of a tree in rural Ashland, Nebraska, Aug. 27, 2013, as a late summer heat wave sends temperatures into the high 90s.
Rosanne Skirble
Days of unrelenting high temperatures are the most deadly weather phenomenon on Earth, but like other extreme weather events, they are difficult to predict.

Across Europe in 2003, heat waves were blamed for 50,000 deaths. Six hundred lives were lost in California in 2006 because of the scorching temperatures.

Now scientists have identified a weather pattern in the atmosphere that may help meteorologists predict heat waves and, as a result, save lives.

Heat wave precursor

While prior studies have focused on land or sea surface conditions to try to identify patterns that precede heat waves, climate scientist Haiyan Teng turned her attention to the atmosphere.
This image shows the differences in day time land surface temperatures collected in July 2001 and during the 2003 heat wave by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. (NASA/Reto Stockli and Robert Simmon, basedThis image shows the differences in day time land surface temperatures collected in July 2001 and during the 2003 heat wave by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. (NASA/Reto Stockli and Robert Simmon, based
x
This image shows the differences in day time land surface temperatures collected in July 2001 and during the 2003 heat wave by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. (NASA/Reto Stockli and Robert Simmon, based
This image shows the differences in day time land surface temperatures collected in July 2001 and during the 2003 heat wave by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. (NASA/Reto Stockli and Robert Simmon, based
She and colleagues at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, ran a 12,000-year computer simulation over the northern hemisphere.

"Instead of just 20 or 30 from the last 50 years of observations, we’ve got 6,000 extreme heat wave events," she said. "This gives us enough samples to study the precursor circulation patterns for these heat waves.”

Teng says the computer model identified a pattern that showed up before the temperature rose. It is characterized by a sequence of alternating high and low pressure systems - five of each - circling the northern latitudes.

“It’s high above the atmosphere in the upper troposphere and this pattern [precedes] the U.S. heat waves by two weeks,” she said.

Making the connection

While the pattern is well documented in the historic record, this is the first time it has been connected to extreme heat waves. When the scientists reviewed real heat waves in the United States dating back to 1948, a similar pattern often emerged.

“We think, ok, this pattern is a pattern in nature, and it is useful for the heat wave probability forecast. It is an estimate of the probability, not exactly how warm the temperature is going to be," Teng said.
Scientists Identify Way to Predict Heat Waves
Scientists Identify Way to Predict Heat Wavesi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The wave pattern Teng describes in the journal Nature Geoscience is global in scale and has implications beyond the Northern Hemisphere.

While more research needs to be done to confirm the findings, Teng says her team will continue their search for other circulation and environmental factors that foreshadow extreme weather.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More