An Analysis of the Prevalence of Heat Waves in the United States between 1948 and 2015
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An Analysis of the Prevalence of Heat Waves in the United States between 1948 and 2015

  • 2018

  • Source: Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 57(7), 1535-1549
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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
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  • Description:
    Unusually hot weather is a major concern to public health as well as other systems (e.g., ecological, economical, energy). This study utilized spatially continuous and homogenized observational surface climate data to examine changes in the regularity of heat waves in the continental United States. This included the examination of heat waves according only to daytime temperatures, nighttime temperatures, and both daytime and nighttime temperatures. Results confirmed a strong increase in the prevalence of heat waves between the mid-1970s and the dataset end (2015), and that increase was preceded by a mild decrease since the dataset beginning (1948). Results were unclear whether the prevalence of nighttime or simultaneous daytime–nighttime heat waves increased the most, but it was clear that increases were largest in the summer. The largest gains occurred in the West and Southwest, and a “warming hole” was most conspicuous in the northern Great plains. The changes in heat wave prevalence were similar to changes in the mean temperatures, and more so in the daytime heat waves. Daytime and nighttime heat waves coincided with one another more frequently in recent years than they did in the 1970s. Some parts of the United States (West Coast) were more likely than other parts to experience daytime and nighttime heat waves simultaneously. While linear trends were not sensitive to the climate dataset, trend estimation method, or heat wave definition, they were mildly sensitive to the start and end dates and extremely sensitive to the climate base period method (fixed in time or directly preceding any given heat wave).
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    Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 57(7), 1535-1549
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  • ISSN:
    1558-8424;1558-8432;
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