Excessive heat is the deadliest weather hazard in the United States, yet there is still a lot to learn about heat waves.
Research by Dr. David Keellings, assistant professor of geography at The University of Alabama, has shown heat waves are becoming larger while also becoming more severe over the last 60 years.
The reason is likely climate change, but how heat waves are getting bigger is not fully understood. Keellings was recently awarded a three-year, $340,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the relationship between the size of heat waves and causes across the U.S. with the goal of developing predictive models.
“The grant will support further research into heat waves that have a big impact on human health across the U.S., and it will directly involve stakeholders in emergency response and public health to develop improved planning and response to heat waves,” Keellings said.
A heat wave is abnormally hot weather for the time of year for the location. A heat wave brings temperatures hotter than 95 percent of recorded temperatures for the time of year, or, thought of another way, it can be temperatures that only typically occur every 20 years or more.
The data produced from the study could inform climate models and provide information on the path to refining forecasts for heat waves.
Researchers at Michigan State University are also supported by the grant and will work with Keellings on the project.