Further Scientific Investigations

Our main scientific effort continues to be the exploration and expansion of our database and the results of our temperature analysis.

We have begun a study of the variability of temperature, and the rate of occurrence of extreme events. Extreme events include heat waves, which are expected to become more frequent due both to global warming and to the urban heat island effects. Such an event occurred in Chicago in 1995 and led to an excess of about 750 heat-wave related deaths. Equally important may be the effects that global warming will have on cold waves. City planners need to understand what to expect at both extremes.

Although warming is expected to lead to more heat waves, it is not clear whether the variability – difference between high temperatures and low temperatures – will change. Although some prior studies have suggested that it does, our preliminary work shows that the range of temperature extremes (difference between hottest and coldest days) is remaining remarkably constant, even as the temperature rose over the past 50 years. Memos describing these preliminary results were posted on our website in early 2013. Additional analysis will test these initial conclusions and we expect to be able reduce the error uncertainties and reach stronger conclusions.

We will continue with exploratory data analysis (a statistical method developed by John Tukey), and we will share our results with the public in the forms of memos posted online and of papers submitted to peer reviewed journals.

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