Scott Sheridan

Everyone expects Death Valley in July to be "hot" and Minneapolis in February to be "cold", right? Much research has been done to study the extreme temperature events that take place in these and other regions. But, what about 81 degrees in Anchorage in July or 2 degrees in Dallas in February?

Such events are often called "relative" extreme temperature events – relative to the time of the year and how acclimatized the local population is to them. Less studied, though potentially more impactful, relative temperature extremes are a topic that two Kent State University geography professors and their collaborators at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are currently studying in depth.       

“These relative events may grab fewer headlines but can have important impacts on the environment, agriculture, and human health,” said Cameron C. Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Geography (within the College of Arts and Sciences) at Kent State.

As principal investigator, Lee was recently awarded a three-year, $387,000 grant from NOAA's Climate Program Office and its Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections (MAPP) program.

The project is titled “Excess Heat and Excess Cold Factors: Establishing a unified duration-intensity metric for monitoring hazardous temperature conditions in North America.”

Lee’s co-investigators on this project are Professor Scott Sheridan, Ph.D., chair of Kent State's Department of Geography and Karin Gleason, a meteorologist at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

The researchers will analyze the historical frequency, duration, spatial extent and population impacted by these events in North America and will cross validate the results between observed station data and modeled historical data known as reanalysis data. These events will be developed into prospective monitoring products. The robustness of these products will be assessed through different data sets. Using the event definitions that are developed, the researchers will then aim to transition them into operational monitoring products.

Ultimately, establishing a standard set of products can help unify and simplify information used by local National Weather Service offices and public health leaders to issue excessive heat and cold warnings across climatologically-diverse areas of North America.

“Results show an increase in heat events and decrease in cold events across most of the United States and Canada,” Lee said. “More interestingly, the relative events are changing slightly more rapidly than the absolute events.”

The grant will also provide the funding for the university to hire a postdoctoral fellow in fall 2022.

In 2017, Lee and Sheridan received funding from NOAA’s MAPP program to use a synoptic climatological framework to assess predictability of anomalous coastal sea levels. That same year, they also received funding from NOAA’s Climate Monitoring (CM) program to develop extreme event climate change indicators related to human thermal comfort.

Lee is a member of the Environmental Science and Design Research Institute at Kent State and also serves as managing editor of the International Journal of Biometeorology.

Kent State is ranked as an R1 research institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, which is the highest recognition that doctoral universities can receive, affirming Kent State’s place as an elite research institution along with Yale, Harvard and the University of California-Berkeley.

To learn more about Lee’s research, visit

Media Contacts:
Jim Maxwell,, (330) 672-8028
Cameron C. Lee,, (330) 672-0360

Scott Sheridan, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Geography, in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State University, was recently selected to become an inaugural American Geophysical Union (AGU) LANDInG (Leadership Academy and Network for Diversity and Inclusion in the Geosciences) Academy Fellow.

The two-year professional development program, funded by a National Science Foundation grant, is for current and aspiring diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leaders in the Earth and space sciences. Sheridan is among one of only 12 individuals selected for this inaugural cohort (out of more than 80+ applicants). The review committee noted Sheridan’s strong personal commitment to valuing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and readiness to lead future DEI change across the STEM fields.

“Earth and space science remains one of the least diverse fields in STEM,” said the American Geophysical Union leadership team in a recent announcement. “Until diversity is a fundamental feature of scientific excellence, the lack of an equitable, inclusive geoscience community will continue to hamper innovation and discovery. To correct the culture, systematic changes need to come from the community and the institutions that employ earth and space scientists.”

“We’ve always had a view in Geography that our struggles were discipline-specific, and, while Geography as a whole needs to become more diverse, it clearly needs to have seeds planted at the local level,” Sheridan said.

American Geophysical Union, the largest professional organization of earth and space scientists, seeks to bring about this change by cultivating a network of mid-career scientists who are equipped to improve DEI at their home institutions and across STEM. The Academy will provide its Fellows with the formal training and hands-on support they need to implement their own DEI initiative.

Fostering Necessary Conversations and Action
Sheridan has served as department chair since 2015, and currently sits on the University’s Strategic Planning Committee; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Council; and its Anti-Racism Task Force. He said these experiences helped him to realize how much more there is that needs to be done, and how shared responsibility for effecting changes is so critical.

“My main hope is to work to develop program-specific ways to foster the necessary conversations and help spur actions to deal with issues of equity within each unit,” Sheridan said. “While I feel that the university as a whole has been excellent in addressing these issues, when it comes down to the smaller units on campus, I feel that there is much interest in working to improve ourselves, but we struggle to find actions to concretely move forward.”

Sheridan’s background and research focus
His educational background includes B.S. and M.S. degrees in Meteorology from Rutgers and Texas A&M, respectively, followed by a Ph.D. in Climatology from the University of Delaware.  He has co-authored 119 peer-reviewed publications and has been an investigator on grants totaling over $4 million. He has graduated 10 Ph.D. and 12 M.A. students. He is also currently editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Biometeorology and associate editor of Science of the Total Environment, and president-elect of the International Society of Biometeorology.

Sheridan’s scholarship focuses on the areas of applied climatology and human biometeorology. His applied climatology expertise stems from his development and implementation of novel techniques in synoptic climatology, a method in which atmospheric parameters are categorized into discrete categories.  This applied research has focused most substantially on human biometeorology, in particular, the impacts of extreme heat on human health.  He has worked extensively on heat warning systems, heat perception, urbanization and heat vulnerability, and trends and projections of heat-related mortality. He has focused on applying synoptic climatological techniques to global change issues, including analyses of atmospheric teleconnections and their impact on mid-latitude weather, water clarity, as well as sea-level variability.

To learn more about Kent State’s Department of Geography, visit:

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Media Contact:
Jim Maxwell, 330-672-8028,