Experts Available to Weigh In On Heat Wave and Its Impact

UC Riverside scholars can comment on frequency of heat waves, impact of high temperatures on crops, health, potential for wildfires

Photo shows the sun and clouds.

UC Riverside scholars are available for media interviews on the heat wave.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — What impact does the heat wave in the country have on crops and the potential for wildfires?  How does it impact our health?  How is climate change linked to the high temperatures we’re experiencing?

Experts at the University of California, Riverside are available to talk to reporters working on stories related to the heat wave.

Robert Allen, assistant professor of climatology
Telephone: (951) 827-4870

Allen uses climate models in his research and can talk to reporters about how such models can improve our understanding of climate change.  “Several observational studies have shown the frequency of occurrence of extreme warm temperatures has increased,” he says.  “At the same time, the frequency of occurrence of cold extremes has decreased.  This is consistent with a shift in the distribution of temperature — think of a standard bell-shaped curve — due to an increase in the mean.  An increase in the mean is consistent with an enhanced greenhouse effect due to elevated greenhouse gases.  Modeling studies also show heat waves have, and will become, more frequent in the future.   Of course, one cannot attribute the occurrence of a single, rare event to climate change, but it is definitely consistent with expectations.”

Milt McGiffen, cooperative extension vegetable crops specialist and plant physiologist
Telephone: (909) 560-0839

McGiffen researches sustainable agriculture and can comment on the impact of the heat waves on crops and crop production.  “The crops most susceptible are those in the most extreme conditions, and those situations where irrigation is not available,” he says.  “As I understand it, the climate change predictions are that if you are currently dry and hot, you become drier and hotter; if you are wet and cold, you become more so – so places where the climate is near the extreme may be pushed over the edge.”

Richard Minnich, professor of Earth sciences
Telephone: (951) 827-5515

Minnich, a fire ecologist, can explain how climate change influences wildfires. “This is the third consecutive year when the Pacific Ocean just off the west coast is unusually cold this summer, encouraging heat in the middle of the country,” he says.  “While heat encourages the burning of forests, wildfire suppression only aggravates the problem.  Forests need to burn at least a couple of times a century, lest you build up fuel in the form of old trees.  In Mexico, they let forest fires burn, which is why in the Mexican Rocky Mountains you have many small fires but no mega fires. “

Emma Simmons, M.D., associate dean of student affairs, School of Medicine
Telephone: (951) 827-7663

Dr. Simmons can answer health-related questions pertinent to the heat wave and discuss simple measures people can take to mitigate the effects of the heat wave. “Heat waves can cause preventative illness in everyone, especially the very young and very old,” she says. “However, we can do several things to prepare ourselves to try to avoid these consequences.”

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6050
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

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