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UC expert puts global heat waves in context for WVXU's Cincinnati Edition

Aug 22, 2023

WVXU’s Cincinnati Edition turned to an environmental studies professor at the University of Cincinnati to put record heat waves countries around the world have been seeing into context.

Bob Hyland, an associate professor and educator in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, said this has been the hottest summer on record globally, based on data collected by the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

“It is getting hotter. These hot temperatures in July are on the heels of the hottest June in the 174-year-record we have,” Hyland told Cincinnati Edition host Lucy May.

Hyland was joined by WCPO-9 morning meteorologist Jennifer Ketchmark, who noted that this is an El Niño year, which tends to create warmer air currents. The Southwest has been affected the most this year, she said.

“For the last 30 to 40 days, it has been breaking heat records. Just overwhelming heat building in the Southwest,” she said.

Ketchmark said the best way to beat the extreme heat is to drink more water to stay hydrated, wear lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing and when possible to avoid going outside in the afternoon when the heat is at its peak.

Ketchmark said the high temps can lead to other extreme weather. Cincinnati has gotten 8 inches of rain in July, more than double the normal amount.

How are we coping? Not always well, Hyland said.

“Heat is the No. 1 killer in terms of climate. That’s the concern,” Hyland said.

Ketchmark said heat-related deaths often spike on the third day of a heat wave when people’s bodies can no longer cope with the stress.

Hyland noted that deadly heat can affect neighborhoods disproportionately. A 2020 study by Cincinnati found that some neighborhoods serve as urban heat islands, trapping the heat from the sun overnight like an oven that is slow to cool. These neighborhoods have high-density construction and unshaded parking lots that can create a heat sink.

“If we’re going to get our arms around this problem, what we need to do is reduce the amount of greenhouse gas going into the atmosphere,” Hyland said.

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