Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Climate science

Heads up on a heat wave

Subjects

A model for forecasting seasonal climate in the United States was able to predict months in advance the intense summer heat that scorched the country's central plains last year (pictured).

Lifeng Luo at Michigan State University in East Lansing and Yan Zhang at Scinovation in Princeton, New Jersey, compared the observed number of extremely hot days in the region last summer with temperature-anomaly predictions made by the National Weather Service's upgraded Climate Forecast System, which became operational at the end of March 2011. Almost all the 424 runs of the model between April and mid-July 2011 accurately predicted an unusually large number of days with extreme temperatures in the region.

As the summer approached, the model became more certain about where, when and how intense the heat wave would be.

Successful prediction of a climate extreme adds confidence to seasonal climate forecasts, the authors say. But how often the model correctly predicts future events still needs to be evaluated, they caution.

Credit: T. GUTIERREZ/PRESS ASSOCIATION IMAGES

Geophys. Res. Lett. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2012GL051383 (2012)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Heads up on a heat wave. Nature 484, 8 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/484008a

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/484008a

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing