Why Humans Are Feeling The Heat

Human-perceived temperatures are rising faster than actual air temperatures, say researchers.

AsianScientist (Jan. 17, 2018) – The mercury is on the rise: Each of the three years from 2014 to 2016 broke the global air temperature record, and 2017 was also one of the hottest years ever.

To understand the impact of this trend on humans, geographers and climatologists led by Professor David Chen Yongqin at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Dr Li Jianfeng at Hong Kong Baptist University tracked global changes in apparent temperature, the temperature equivalent perceived by humans. Their findings are published in Nature Climate Change.

Using information from four datasets of past climate and outputs from seven global climate models to estimate human-perceived apparent temperatures from air temperatures, humidity and wind, they found that apparent temperatures have risen faster than air temperatures over land in the last few decades, especially at lower latitudes—a trend that is expected to continue in the future.

They also found that global warming has stronger long-term impacts on humans under both extreme and non-extreme weather conditions. Climate change adaptation, therefore, cannot focus only on heat wave events, they said.

The researchers concluded that the world will feel hotter than what is indicated by air temperatures. Cities and communities, especially those located in tropical and sub-tropical regions, will therefore face greater threats from hot weather, making climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts all the more vital and urgent.

“Among the extensive and far-reaching impacts of global warming, human health and labor productivity are most directly affected by thermal discomfort and heat-related morbidity and mortality,” said Chen.

“Our study of the faster increases in apparent temperature has produced important findings for this kind of climate change impact assessment, and provide a strong scientific support for more stringent and effective climate change mitigation efforts to combat global warming.”

The article can be found at: Li et al. (2018) Elevated Increases in Human-perceived Temperature Under Climate Warming.


Source: Hong Kong Baptist University; Photo: Pixabay.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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