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Reading University Graduate School/NERC SCENARIO DTP/ECWMF

Project Team

Prof Ros Cornforth, Prof. Hannah Cloke, Dr Claudia Di Napoli, Dr Florian Pappenberger




September 2019- September 2022


Ghana; Uganda; Africa

Key Contact



Heatwaves, Health, Livelihoods, Forecasting, Climate Change, Extreme Heat, Heat Stress




Heatwaves have been increasing in frequency and duration since at least the 1990’s and are highly likely to continue to do so across Africa. Heatwaves have been shown to increase the mortality rate on a global scale, but especially in those with a limited thermoregulatory capacity or prolonged heat exposure due to livelihood. Heatwaves also have given rise to the cases of some disease/illnesses, for example, Kidney Disease and Meningococcal Meningitis (CSM), which can also be terminal. Further to this, heatwaves impact all sectors society - they are shown to decrease yields in some crops, contribute to changes in freshwater ecology, and present challenges for infrastructure including energy production. This directly impacts people’s livelihoods.

Our research

Is a PhD Project: Making use of the UTCI - a biometerological index-Temperature and Relative Humidity ERA5, Reanalysis Data provided by ECWMF, the meteorological and spatial distribution of heat stress in a heatwave will be explored across the African Continent. Additionally, snowballing interviews should provide more of a human perspective of heatwaves and their risk, across stakeholders and sectors, with a focus on Ghana. Already, the heatwave research and policy in the UK has been assessed through a systematic review, to act as a comparison (both ways). Further, the ability to forecast heatwaves and the possible development of a heat vulnerability index will be explored.

Our impact

The main aim, is to raise the profile of heatwaves as a hazard on a global scale. Hopefully, the project will add evidence to this sparse research area. It could also provide the basis for a heat early warning system.

Take a read of two new infographics produced under this project: