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Title: Four distinct Northeast US heat wave circulation patterns and associated mechanisms, trends, and electric usage

Northeastern US heat waves have usually been considered in terms of a single circulation pattern, the high-pressure circulation typical of most heat waves occurring in other parts of the world. However, k-means clustering analysis from 1980–2018 shows there are four distinct patterns of Northeast heat wave daily circulation, each of which has its own seasonality, heat-producing mechanisms (associated moisture, subsidence, and temperature advection), and impact on electricity demand. Monthly analysis shows statistically-significant positive trends occur in late summer for two of the patterns and early summer for a third pattern, while the fourth pattern shows a statistically significant negative trend in early summer. These results demonstrate that heat waves in a particular geographic area can be initiated and maintained by a variety of mechanisms, resulting in heat wave types with distinct impacts and potential links to climate change, and that pattern analysis is an effective tool to distinguish these differences.

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npj Climate and Atmospheric Science
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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