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Laurence S. Kalkstein, Paul F. Jamason, J. Scott Greene, Jerry Libby, and Lawrence Robinson

Last summer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, instituted a new Hot Weather–Health Watch/Warning System (PWWS) to alert the city's residents of potentially oppressive weather situations that could negatively affect health. In addition, the system was used by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health for guidance in the implementation of mitigation procedures during dangerous weather. The system is based on a synoptic climatological procedure that identifies “oppressive” air masses historically associated with increased human mortality. Airmass occurrence can be predicted up to 48 h in advance with use of model output statistics guidance forecast data. The development and statistical basis of the system are discussed, and an analysis of the procedure's ability to forecast weather situations associated with elevated mortality counts is presented. The PWWS, through greater public awareness of excessive heat conditions, may have played an important role in reducing Philadelphia's total heat-related deaths during the summer of 1995.

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Kevin P. Gallo, Timothy W. Owen, David R. Easterling, and Paul F. Jamason

Abstract

The 1221 weather observation stations that compose the U.S. Historical Climatology Network were designated as either urban, suburban, or rural based on data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Operational Linescan System (OLS). The designations were based on local and regional samples of the OLS data around the stations (OLS method). Trends in monthly maximum and minimum temperature and the diurnal temperature range (DTR) were determined for the 1950–96 interval for each of three land use/land cover (LULC) designations. The temperature trends for the OLS-derived designations of LULC were compared to similarly designated LULC based on (i) map- (Operational Navigation Charts) and population-based estimates of LULC (ONCP method), and (ii) LULC designations that resulted from of a survey of the network station operators. Although differences were not statistically significant, the DTR trends (degrees Celsius per 100 years) did differ between the LULC classes defined by the OLS method, from −0.41 for the rural stations to −0.86 for the urban stations. Trends also differed, although not significantly, between the methods used to define an LULC class, such that the trends in rural DTR varied from −0.41 for the OLS defined stations to −0.67 for the ONCP defined stations. Although the trends between classes were not significantly different, they do present some contrasts that might confound the interpretation of temperature trends when the local and regional environments associated with the analyzed stations are not considered. The general (urban, suburban, or rural) LULC associated with surface observation stations appears to be one of the factors that can influence the trends observed in temperatures and thus should be considered in the analysis and interpretation of temperature trends.

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