Heat Wave Prediction Pattern Identified
A distinctive atmospheric pattern appears to precede U.S. heat waves by 15 to 20 days.
The finding, detailed in this week's issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, could lead to improved probability forecasts of U.S. heat waves beyond the 1-week weather forecast range.
"We think once this pattern forms, it favors the formation of heat waves over the U.S.," explained Haiyan Teng, a climate scientist at National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado.
Teng and her NCAR colleagues noticed the connection between the pattern and U.S. heat waves while analyzing a 12,000-year simulation of the weather across the northern hemisphere.
After analyzing nearly 6,000 U.S. heat waves in the computer model, the team concluded that summertime heat waves in the United States were 2 to 4 times more likely if a distinctive "wavenumber-5" atmospheric