Concurrent Droughts, Heat Waves on the Rise in the U.S.

Sept. 4, 2015

Research shows surge in extreme weather conditions.

Recent droughts and heat waves are happening with greater frequency than in the past, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Irvine. When measuring events the period between 1960 and 2010 in the U.S., the researchers from UCI’s Center for Hydrometerology & Remote Sensing found significantly more concurrent droughts and heat waves during the 1990-2010 period as compared to 1960-1980.

For the purposes of the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, heat waves were defined as three to seven days in a row with temperatures in the 90th percentile of the historical record, while droughts were classified as extended periods during which precipitation was 20% or less of the norm. While the researchers did not specifically look into human-caused climate change as part of the study, they do note that an increasein worldwide temperature would naturally raise the probability of events such as heat waves occurring.

If the idea of future heat waves sending your facility’s utility bills through the roof makes you sweat, be sure to check out this guide on maximizing HVAC efficiency. If you’re still getting thermal comfort complaints, check out these tips to see if there’s an area you might have missed.

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