on March 31st, 2016

Environmental scientists, engineers, and meteorologists have been working together to improve the efficiency of warnings for heat waves. This according to Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. 

The new study from Harvard University in collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has been researching sea surface temperature patterns that could enable meteorologists to give 50-day warnings, prior to the heat wave hitting land. 

The team used data from the Eastern United States and observed weather trends from 1982 to 2015 to measure patterns of heat waves across 80 different weather stations. 

A Harvard graduate and author of the study, Karen McKinnon told Harvard’s official site, “We began the analysis by empirically exploring relationships between extremes in summer temperature and sea surface temperatures.” They observed what is called the Pacific Extreme Pattern which involves warm and cold waters that span across the Pacific during the summer.Through the observations, they can cross-reference temperature behaviors, and according to their official study, provide “skillful prediction of hot weather [in the Eastern United States] as much as 50 days in advance.”

The lack of rainfall was also looked at according to another co-author, Peter Huybers, a professor of earth and planetary science and of environmental science and engineering. He said, “Lack of rainfall dries the land surface, making it difficult to remove heat by evaporation and primes the land for more extreme heat.” As a result, they can measure what an oncoming heat wave might look like. 

If the study progresses to the point of teaching other countries how to work towards discovering how to sufficiently warn a population of a large-scale heat wave it could mean the saving of lives, farmers’ crops being prepared for the heat waves and the stocking up of water in case of shortages due to the crippling effect heat waves have on the mass population. 

 

 

 

 

 


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