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Workshop on the Development of Climate Information Systems for Heat Health Early Warning: Assessing Knowledge, Needs, and the Path Forward

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Recent Assessments agree that extreme heat events will become more frequent and intense as our climate changes. To address this issue and build on the emerging capacity to predict heat on climate time scales, NOAA (OAR, NWS, NESDIS), the Deutscher Wetterdienst (German Met Service), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the Global Framework on Climate Services (GFCS) are joining forces, along with other partners, to explore lessons learned and share best practices in order to develop climate information systems for heat health early warning.

The workshop was held July 28-30, 2015, Chicago, IL.  It brought together scientists from climate, weather, public health and decision making communities to assess the state of knowledge with regard to:

  • Characterizing prediction parameters and effectiveness of existing heat health early warning systems in context of application to weather and climate (sub-seasonal to decadal) time scales;
  • Understanding heat exposure outcomes across temporal and spatial scales;
  • Identifying useful methodologies for producing, issuing and communicating warnings and alerts and their potential for use on climate time scales.

The workshop featured keynote speakers including the Executive Director of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication, and the Korey Stringer Institute which addresses heat impacts on athletes. NOAA’s Dr. Rick Spinrad kicked off the discussion of research needs.
International participants included the head of Weather Forecasting at the India Meteorological Service and the head of the India Institute for Public Health–both very involved in recent heat wave management and response in India.
To engage the broader Chicagoans and the broader Great Lakes community, NOAA hosted, through StormCenter Communications, a public-facing event, ‘Climate and Extreme Heat: A Town Hall on Community Resilience and Public Health,’ at the Field Museum. Additional support came from the National Healthcare Coalition and Harmonic International.
Next steps include:

  • Using criteria discussed at the workshop identify options for implementing pilots at national, regional, local and international scales that leverage existing NOAA and CDC resources to provide climate timescale heat-health information.
  • Working with International partners on developing and sharing best practices for integrating sub-seasonal to seasonal and longer time scale climate information into heat-health products.

The workshop brought together public health, earth science, social science, and communications experts from several countries to discuss the current state of heat-health practices and needed actions and research to increase resilience to extreme heat in the future. A key theme in the workshop was transitioning research and capabilities to operational heat health forecasting that spans the weather-climate continuum and research on public health, and social sciences to improve the impactfulness of early warning of extreme heat events. The conference provided information to the public during a Town Hall, and many remote and in-person participants attended to engage and ask questions of the presenters.

To access the full Town Hall video, please visit:
To see Dr. Rick Spinrad, NOAA’s Chief Scientist, at the Town Hall, visit:
The workshop is part of the National Integrated Heat Health Information System launch, which is a CPO lead integrated information system for heat health.

**All images courtesy Dave Jones, StormCenter Communications, Inc.

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