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Research to explore people’s experiences of heatwaves

Woman protecting her head in the sun

A project which tracks people’s experiences of heatwaves is being launched today (7 August 2020).

The Heatwaves mission is a collaboration between The Open University (OU) and The Royal Meteorological Society, supported by BBC Weather which asks people to record temperatures where they are located and to log how they are coping in hot weather.

The records will be uploaded to  nQuire, a citizen science platform developed at the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology (IET) in partnership with the BBC and led by Dr Christothea Herodotou, Senior Lecturer in IET. nQuire has been designed to support learning through designing and taking part in large-scale investigations; the Heatwaves mission aims to help citizens learn how to record temperatures and understand the impact of heatwaves on their health and wellbeing.

Adam Bullimore, Head of BBC Weather: “We know BBC audiences are increasingly interested in the impact heatwaves may have on everyday life. This is a chance to get involved in something which could give us even more insight and could be great fun to be part of too!”

The researchers expect that the mission will provide valuable information to help people plan for heatwaves in the future, which, if climate predictions are accurate, may be much hotter.

Professor Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society said: “This is a great opportunity for the public to help scientists understand how people in the UK experience heatwaves, how this experience is linked to factors such as where we live and work, and how we can be better prepared for excessively high temperatures. Extreme heat events are becoming more common over time under climate change and new temperature records are being broken around the world. We would like everyone to reflect on the conditions they are experiencing now, and then think about them occurring more often in the future with the temperature being even hotter – what actions could you take to manage your comfort during such extreme temperature events?”

According to Stephen Lewis, OU Professor of Atmospheric Physics, heatwaves are becoming more common and extreme heat at night can damage health, so the recommendations that the research will make into how people can become more comfortable living in heat, are timely:

“Heatwaves are becoming more common and high temperatures at night are a danger to health. Researchers will gain a fascinating insight into how very local factors can affect the bigger picture analysis. Participants will be able to relate forecasts to how they will actually feel and see how they might improve their own comfort by making simple changes.”

Take part in the Heatwaves Mission

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