Extreme Temperature

The image shows the heat emanating from Death Valley on 30 June 2013. The measurement is surface temperature as measured by the Thermal Infrared Sensor on the Landsat 8 satellite. The accompanying natural color view from the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 shows that the cooler areas are either higher in elevation or covered with plants. Image: NASA.


A general term for temperature variations above (extreme heat) or below (extreme cold) normal conditions (IRDR Glossary).

Since climate varies regionally, the definition of an extreme temperature and its threshold will differ from location to location. In other words, an extreme value in one location may be within the normal range in a different location (WMO).

A simple method is to establish a specific threshold for temperature and extreme precipitation events and evaluate the extremes that occur over (or under) that given threshold. Another common mean of ascertaining thresholds is based on selecting the tail of distributions for temperature and precipitation.Statistical partitions such as by quartiles or percentiles of the distribution have provided a means for evaluating extremes (WMO).

Facts and figures

Heat waves

A period of marked unusual hot weather (maximum, minimum and daily average temperature) over a region persisting at least three consecutive days during the warm period of the year based on local (station-based) climatological conditions, with thermal conditions recorded above given thresholds. Heat waves differ from warm spells. Similar to heat waves, warm spells are defined as a persistent period of abnormal warm weather. A warm spell occurs at any time of the year, whereas heat waves can only occur in the warm season (WMO).

Cold waves

A period of marked and unusual cold weather characterized by a sharp and significant drop of air temperatures near the surface (maximum, minimum and daily average) over a large area and persisting below certain thresholds for at least two consecutive days during the cold season. “Cool spell” refers to persistently below-average temperature conditions occurring during the warm season (WMO).

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Data Source

GP-STAR factsheet

Publishing institution: United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
After the TAM was conducted in Myanmar, innovative impacts were completed following a recommendation. “Emergency Operation Centre (EOC)”, which is comprised of four units including “Remote Sensing Unit” and “Risk Assessment and Emergency Response Unit” was established in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief & Resettlement (MSWRR). The capacity building of MSWRR and other related institutes in remote sensing and GIS were strengthened. The Disaster Management Training Centre now conducts courses in remote sensing/GIS. Myanmar has also become the first country in ASEAN to apply for universal access to the International Charter. Myanmar government is aware of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and one map policy that has been initiated by the Ministry of Education is very crucial.  
Publishing institution: United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)

In order to encourage the targeted retrieval of space-based information and data by disaster risk reduction practitioners, content on the Portal is systematically enriched with metadata. For instance, data sources are marked up with data about their file type, satellite/sensor and spatial coverage and whether they relate to the disaster risk management or emergency response phase. The tool features a range of filters that draw on the metadata, thereby allowing users to narrow down their search, for example, filtering available GIS software by hazard type. This ensures that users efficiently find the content that is most relevant to them. At the same time, the Portal encourages the discovery of resources related to those accessed by the user, by providing links to them on the same page. This allows for contextualisation and highlights links between resources from different areas that other platforms may display in an isolated fashion. A dynamic glossary, which means that terms in... read more

Publishing institution: UNITAR Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT)

Based on optical and radar images of different resolutions, UNOSAT products are also enriched with the available baseline GIS datasets and crowdsourcing data. Satellite-derived analysis performed by UNOSAT is delivered in the form of GIS Data, Static Maps, Live Web Maps, and Reports, and is then shared with a wide range of end-users such as UN Agencies, International Organizations, and Governments.

Publishing institution: Joint Research Center, European Commission (JRC)

The Global Human Settlement (GHS) framework produces global open source spatial information about the human presence on the planet over time. This is in the form of built up maps, population density maps and settlement maps. This information is generated with evidence-based analytics and knowledge using new spatial data mining technologies. The framework uses heterogeneous data including global archives of fine-scale satellite imagery, census data, and volunteered geographic information. The data is processed fully automatically and generates analytics and knowledge reporting objectively and systematically about the presence of population and built-up infrastructures. 

Publishing institution: International Working Group on Satellite Emergency Mapping (IWG‐SEM)

The guidelines will be reviewed and updated periodically, in order to integrate new best practices and to be responsive to evolutions in technology and end-user needs. The IWG-SEM chair has the responsibility to initiate the review, by agreement of the Working Group. 

The production and the maintenance of the guidelines are based on a joint effort by the members of the International Working Group on Satellite-based Emergency Mapping (IWG- SEM), a voluntary group of organizations involved in satellite-based emergency mapping. It was founded to improve cooperation, communication and professional standards among the global network of satellite-based emergency mapping providers. The chairperson of the group is nominated for a term of one year and is responsible for organizing the monthly telecons and bi-annual meetings. The current chair is from the Department of Geoinformatics, Z_GIS University of Salzburg / Spatial Services Ltd, Austria.

Publishing institution: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Intensive capacity development sessions for Pacific island countries  (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia (the Federated States of), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu).

The project aims to enhance institutional and technical capacity for using geospatial data and technology applications and promote regional cooperation for sharing geospatial data for disaster management in Pacific island countries.

Publishing institution: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Developed for the needs of the ASEAN sub-region in Asia and the Pacific, the handbooks can also be adapted for use in other regions.

The handbooks have been developed through expert working groups, in collaboration with United Nations partners including UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER, UNITAR-UNOSAT, and OCHA. As well as extensive consultation with space agencies, national disaster management authorities and regional institutions, including GISTDA, LAPAN, ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management and Asian Institute of Technology.



Publishing institution: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

For a comprehensive and objective analysis of the settlement patterns, the DLR additionally developed an approach to display the spatial networks between the mapped settlements. It enables the computation of various form and centrality measures to characterize settlement patterns, at different spatial units, ranging from global to local scale.


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Terms in the same hazard group

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