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Heatwaves & Pollution

March 3, 2017

Heatwaves and poor air quality go hand and hand.



Heatwaves and pollution. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In the summer of 2006, hundreds died as temperatures reached the 120’s as far north as South Dakota. Princeton atmospheric scientist Jordan Schnell says heatwaves kill partly because they co-occur with pollution, chiefly ground-level ozone and particulates.

JORDAN SCHNELL (Princeton University):

And what happens is we don’t have a whole lot of winds at the surface, we don’t have any rain to clear anything out, so basically nothing’s being diluted and it just builds up over the course of the multiple days.


In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Schnell reports on research done while at UC, Irvine studying fifteen years of heat waves and modeling how the heat and pollution spread and persist. The work will help provide early warnings of life-threatening events, and predict the longer term effects of climate change. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon