Questions for ‘Heat waves appear more life-threatening than scientists once thought’ 

a boy wearing a soaked t-shirt and pants kneels in a fountain and holds his hands over the spouting water

This boy found a way to cool off at a public fountain in New York City during a mid-July heat wave in 2019. It was part of an unrelenting wave of high temperatures that hit the U.S. Midwest and East Coast that month.


To accompany Heat waves appear more life-threatening than scientists once thought’  


Before Reading:

1. What type of weather is typical of your part of the planet in summer?

2.  What temperatures (highs and lows) are typical for your town in summer? What are typical in winter? Have they changed in recent years? If so, in what ways?

During Reading:

1.  What type of extreme weather event was a “hallmark” of the summer of 2022?

2.  Based on the story, how can extreme heat impact our bodies?

3.  What are some ways that our bodies can keep themselves cool? How does the environment affect how well the body cools itself?

4.  What is the theoretical maximum temperature that people can stand? According to what you read in the story, which parts of the world are projected to regularly exceed this temperature in the near future?

5.  What is the real-world threshold for heat stress in people, according to recent experiments?

6.  How do those findings compare with the theoretical threshold? What do the findings suggest about the likely impacts of heat waves on people?

7. Why are heat waves at temperatures lower than the thresholds still dangerous? Find information in the story to support your answer.

8.  How are researchers and government officials raising awareness about heat waves?

After Reading:

1.  What was the first ever, named heat wave called? (Look it up on the Internet. Hint: It happened in July 2022 in Seville, Spain.) Do some research. Why did Spain decide to pioneer the naming of heat waves? Do you think it makes sense? Explain your reasoning.

2.  Look at that graph in the story titled “Rising heat.” What type of graph is it? What does it show? Describe the trend it shows by putting into words how the heat wave season in the United States has changed over time. Describe one example of the size of the change (using some or all of the data shown in that graph).