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The Development and Validation of a Web-Based Tool to Forecast Wet Bulb Globe Temperature

Authors: Jordan Clark*, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Charles E. Konrad, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sandra Rayne, Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC), Ferdouz Cochran, Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA)
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: heat, athletics, wet bulb globe temperature
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Exposure to extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related fatalities and is a grave concern for occupational health and athletic safety. Wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) is a heat stress index that is quickly becoming the gold standard for assessing environmental heat stress since it accounts for the effect of air temperature, humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation on human body temperature. An increasing number of state high school athletic associations require member schools to measure WBGT to determine activity level modifications for football practices. However, measuring WBGT remains a challenge due to large variations in WBGT across small distances, such as practice fields on high school campuses. Since WBGT is not typically forecasted or measured at weather stations, the Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC), Carolinas Integrated Science and Assessments (CISA), and the North Carolina State Climate Office are collaborating on the development of a web-based tool that forecasts WBGT out to five days across North Carolina and Virginia. Last summer, they worked with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association to pilot the use of the tool at eight high schools across the state. As a part of the pilot work, field measurements of WBGT were made and compared with WBGT forecasts to estimate forecast accuracy. In addition, measurements were made to quantify microscale variations in WBGT and heat stress across a range of playing surfaces and high school campuses with different land characteristics.

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