Recent Increases in Exposure to Extreme Humid-Heat Events Disproportionately Affect Populated Regions

Cassandra D.W. Rogers, Mingfang Ting, Cuihua Li, Kai Kornhuber, Ethan D. Coffel, Radley M. Horton, Colin Raymond, Deepti Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Extreme heat research has largely focused on dry-heat, while humid-heat that poses a substantial threat to human-health remains relatively understudied. Using hourly high-resolution ERA5 reanalysis and HadISD station data, we provide the first spatially comprehensive, global-scale characterization of the magnitude, seasonal timing, and frequency of dry- and wet-bulb temperature extremes and their trends. While the peak dry- and humid-heat extreme occurrences often coincide, their timing differs in climatologically wet regions. Since 1979, dry- and humid-heat extremes have become more frequent over most land regions, with the greatest increases in the tropics and Arctic. Humid-heat extremes have increased disproportionately over populated regions (∼5.0 days per-person per-decade) relative to global land-areas (∼3.6 days per-unit-land-area per-decade) and population exposure to humid-heat has increased at a faster rate than to dry-heat. Our study highlights the need for a multivariate approach to understand and mitigate future harm from heat stress in a warming world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021GL094183
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume48
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 16 2021

Keywords

  • climate change
  • climate variability
  • extreme climate events
  • extreme heat exposure
  • global warming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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