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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

A Review of Recent Advances in Research on Extreme Heat Events

Authors:

Radley Horton

Justin Mankin

Corey Lesk

Ethan Coffel

Colin Raymond

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
2016
Secondary Title:
Current Climate Change Reports
DOI:
10.1007/s40641-016-0042-x
Pages:
242-259
Volume:
2
Year:
2016
Date:
Jan-12-2016
URL:
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40641-016-0042-x

Abstract

Reviewing recent literature, we report that changes in extreme heat event characteristics such as magnitude, frequency, and duration are highly sensitive to changes in mean global-scale warming. Numerous studies have detected significant changes in the observed occurrence of extreme heat events, irrespective of how such events are defined. Further, a number of these studies have attributed present-day changes in the risk of individual heat events and the documented global-scale increase in such events to anthropogenic-driven warming. Advances in process-based studies of heat events have focused on the proximate land-atmosphere interactions through soil moisture anomalies, and changes in occurrence of the underlying atmospheric circulation associated with heat events in the midlatitudes. While evidence for a number of hypotheses remains limited, climate change nevertheless points to tail risks of possible changes in heat extremes that could exceed estimates generated from model outputs of mean temperature. We also explore risks associated with compound extreme events and nonlinear impacts associated with extreme heat.