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Climate Models Indicate Future Holds Stronger, Longer Heat Waves for Indiana, Midwest, Says Researcher

13.08.2010
Heat waves are a growing concern and current climate models indicate they will increase in duration and intensity especially in the mid-latitudes of which Indiana and the Midwest is a part," says climate researcher and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Professor Daniel Johnson.

"Heat waves are known to kill hundreds of people in the United States every year and are the leading cause of weather-related fatalities; usually outstripping the combined effects of hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning and flash floods. "

"One of the most likely disasters to strike the Central Indiana region is an extreme heat event of considerable duration and strength, the researcher says.

Johnson, a geography professor in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, and colleagues of the Indiana University Institute for Research and Social Issues, are currently conducting two studies on the impact of heat waves on vulnerable populations within urbanized areas. The goal is to develop vulnerability models designed to assist emergency personnel in their response and mitigation to heat wave incidents.

It is hoped that the models of vulnerability and associated communication interactions developed by CDC will have a significant impact in lowering heat-related mortality and the associated economic cost of the health effects of at-risk populations.

These studies are funded by NASA ($828,000.00) and an internal Indiana University awards totaling $75,000.00 with collaborators at CDC's National Center for Environmental Health in Atlanta, Ga. The studies funded by NASA initially involve examining heat-related vulnerability in Phoenix, AZ, Philadelphia, PA and Dayton, OH.

Indianapolis will eventually be involved in this study with funding from an IU grant to develop a preliminary heat wave vulnerability system for the Indianapolis area.

The models use complex statistical modeling tools and visualization, and space-borne satellite imagery to identify individual “hot spots” within the four cities and develop vulnerability maps based on the occurrence of past mortality during extreme heat events.

For interviews with Daniel P. Johnson, please call 317-278-5536

Rich Schneider | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.iupui.edu

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