A Review of Recent Advances in Research on Extreme Heat Events

Radley M. Horton, Justin S. Mankin, Corey Lesk, Ethan Coffel, Colin Raymond

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-259
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Climate Change Reports
Volume2
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Extreme heat
  • Heat events
  • Heatwaves
  • Summer heat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science

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