Will climate change increase summertime temperature variability and heat waves by 2100? A new CPO-funded study has the answer

  • 3 March 2016
  • Number of views: 1648
Will climate change increase summertime temperature variability and heat waves by 2100? A new CPO-funded study has the answer

We are well aware that global warming affects our world’s long-term average surface temperature, but does human-induced climate change impact the monthly and seasonal highs and lows in temperature? This variability in Earth’s temperature affects how often extreme events such as heat waves occur and how severe they are, which can severely impact the health of urban and rural populations, outdoor workers, athletes, homebound elderly residents, and even our pets. Heat waves cause more total deaths in the U.S. than all other natural disasters combined.

A new study by Haiyan Teng (National Center for Atmospheric Research; NCAR) and other NCAR researchers, funded by the Climate Program Office’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections program, evaluated by how much and why the variability of within-season summer surface air temperature will increase by the end of the 21st century. The research focused on the Great Plains because this region has been heavily hit by record-breaking heat waves and droughts throughout its history, especially recently. The team found that summer temperature variability in the Great Plains will increase by about 20% in 2070-2100 as compared to 1980-2010. The daily temperature anomalies (departures from the long-term average) for 2070-2100 during future heat waves will be about 0.6℃ warmer than current anomalies. In opposition to previous belief, the researchers said the strengthening of heat waves is caused by increased local land-atmosphere feedbacks associated with climate change, as opposed to changes in planetary wave variability. This study exemplifies research that bolsters NOAA’s efforts towards building a National Integrated Heat Health Information System to help the public better prepare for and respond to extreme heat events.

View the study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL067574/epdf Learn more about the National Integrated Heat Health Information System: http://cpo.noaa.gov/AboutCPO/IntegratedInformationSystems/NIHHIS.aspx




Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2011, the United States experienced a record high number (14) of climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 670 lives, caused more than 6,000 injuries, and cost $55 billion in damages. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.


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