Date of Award
Master of Science
Geography and Environmental Resources
Summer (JJA) temperature (T) and equivalent temperature (TE) for 18 of the largest cities in the eastern United States are investigated for two time periods: 1948-2014 and 1973-2014. Because temperature provides an incomplete description of lower tropospheric heat content, we supplement with TE, which also accounts for the energy associated with moisture. An auxiliary investigation using air mass data from the Spatial Synoptic Classification (SSC) augments the investigation of T and TE trends. The trend analysis revealed significant trends in Tmin at all stations over the 67-year time period and over most stations for the shorter (41-year) period. Minimum TE likewise increases nearly everywhere in the longer series, but at only around half of the stations in the shorter series. Stations with increasing TE in the shorter period are primarily coastal or located in the southern and upper Midwest, where there has also been a noticeable lack of warming. Our results also exhibit a decrease in the diurnal TE range that accompanies the documented decrease in diurnal temperature range over the same period. Trends in T and TE are evaluated in the context of changes in air mass frequency. A heat wave analysis was also conducted to identify changes in intensity and frequency using T and TE Overall, our findings suggest that TE provides a more comprehensive perspective on recent climate change than T alone. With heat wave frequency and intensity projected to increase, we recommend adoption of TE to account for changes in total surface heat content.
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