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Special Issue "Climate Services, Weather Forecasts and Prevention of Human Thermal Stress"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Climate Change and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chuansi Gao

Thermal Environmental Laboratory, Division of Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology, Department of Design Sciences, Faculty of Engineering (LTH), Lund University Box 118, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Environmental and Occupational Health; Thermal Climate Factors, Human Thermal Environment Interactions; Heat and Cold Stress; Thermal Stress Warning and Personalized Adaptation
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Lars Nybo

Integrative Physiology, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Nørre Allé 51, 2200 København N, August Krogh Bygningen, Universitetsparken 13, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Exercise and Sports; Exercise Physiology; Temperature Regulation and Environment Influence on Performance
Guest Editor
Dr. Cornelia Schwierz

Climate Monitoring and Scenarios, Climate Division, Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, P.O. Box 257, CH-8058 Zurich-Airport, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Process Studies; Atmosphere; Climate; Global Warming; Extreme Events; Data Analysis; Atmospheric Modelling; Atmospheric Dynamics; Climate Services
Guest Editor
Dr. Sven Kotlarski

Climate Monitoring and Scenarios, Climate Division, Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, P.O. Box 257, CH-8058 Zurich-Airport, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: process studies; atmosphere; climate; global warming; hydrosphere; cryosphere; climatic effects; climate statistics; regional climate modelling; climate services

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Climate change is increasing average global temperatures and the intensity, frequency and duration of heat waves and cold spells. The impacts of climate change and associated heat or cold stress depend not only on climate factors, but also on human thermoregulation capacity, metabolic heat production, clothing and other factors. Therefore, weather forecasts will be more valuable if combined with individual characteristics and translated into integrated evaluation of heat balance and personalized adaptation strategies for improved thermal stress warnings, preparedness, prevention, and protection. Heat and cold stress and thermal physiological responses usually occur before heat and cold related illnesses. Therefore, the evaluation and prediction of the impact of weather patterns on heat and cold strain can provide earlier warnings for health effects of clinical significance.

This special issue welcomes studies and reviews on combining meteorological forecasts with evaluation of thermal physiological responses and perceived thermal sensations. This can include integration of weather forecast data with human heat balance models and individual user characteristics to provide optimized early warning systems to address negative impacts of extreme weather events on physiology, health, perceived thermal comfort and productivity. Human thermal modelling in connection with meteorological data and practical case studies on effective prevention, protection, intervention, sustainable solutions and adaptation strategies are relevant research areas. Meteorological services to forecast thermal stress and health risks for vulnerable populations, such as elderly people and children in indoor and urban environments, associated with extreme weather events for improved prevention and protection are within the scope of this special issue.

This special issue will provide readers with up-to-date information on human and thermal climate interactions, and with the perspectives of linking meteorological forecasts to thermal stress assessment for early warning, improved prevention, adaptation and policy to cope with thermal climate challenges.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chuansi Gao
Prof. Dr. Lars Nybo
Dr. Cornelia Schwierz
Dr. Sven Kotlarski
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Climate change projection
  • Meteorological forecast
  • Extreme weather events
  • Heat and cold stress
  • Impact of climate change on health and productivity
  • Thermal stress warning
  • Prevention and adaptation

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
An Occupational Heat–Health Warning System for Europe: The HEAT-SHIELD Platform
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2890; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162890
Received: 30 June 2019 / Revised: 8 August 2019 / Accepted: 9 August 2019 / Published: 13 August 2019
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Abstract
Existing heat–health warning systems focus on warning vulnerable groups in order to reduce mortality. However, human health and performance are affected at much lower environmental heat strain levels than those directly associated with higher mortality. Moreover, workers are at elevated health risks when [...] Read more.
Existing heat–health warning systems focus on warning vulnerable groups in order to reduce mortality. However, human health and performance are affected at much lower environmental heat strain levels than those directly associated with higher mortality. Moreover, workers are at elevated health risks when exposed to prolonged heat. This study describes the multilingual “HEAT-SHIELD occupational warning system” platform (https://heatshield.zonalab.it/) operating for Europe and developed within the framework of the HEAT-SHIELD project. This system is based on probabilistic medium-range forecasts calibrated on approximately 1800 meteorological stations in Europe and provides the ensemble forecast of the daily maximum heat stress. The platform provides a non-customized output represented by a map showing the weekly maximum probability of exceeding a specific heat stress condition, for each of the four upcoming weeks. Customized output allows the forecast of the personalized local heat-stress-risk based on workers’ physical, clothing and behavioral characteristics and the work environment (outdoors in the sun or shade), also taking into account heat acclimatization. Personal daily heat stress risk levels and behavioral suggestions (hydration and work breaks recommended) to be taken into consideration in the short term (5 days) are provided together with long-term heat risk forecasts (up to 46 days), all which are useful for planning work activities. The HEAT-SHIELD platform provides adaptation strategies for “managing” the impact of global warming. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Heat Warnings in Switzerland: Reassessing the Choice of the Current Heat Stress Index
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(15), 2684; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16152684
Received: 17 June 2019 / Revised: 20 July 2019 / Accepted: 25 July 2019 / Published: 27 July 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (4234 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
High temperatures lead to heat-related human stress and an increased mortality risk. To quantify heat discomfort and the relevant dangers, heat stress indices combine different meteorological variables such as temperature, relative humidity, radiation and wind speed. In this paper, a set of widely-used [...] Read more.
High temperatures lead to heat-related human stress and an increased mortality risk. To quantify heat discomfort and the relevant dangers, heat stress indices combine different meteorological variables such as temperature, relative humidity, radiation and wind speed. In this paper, a set of widely-used heat stress indices is analyzed and compared to the heat index currently used to issue official heat warnings in Switzerland, considering 28 Swiss weather stations for the years 1981–2017. We investigate how well warnings based on the heat index match warning days and warning periods that are calculated from alternative heat stress indices. The latter might allow for more flexibility in terms of specific warning demands and impact-based warnings. It is shown that the percentage of alternative warnings that match the official warnings varies among indices. Considering the heat index as reference, the simplified wet bulb globe temperature performs well and has some further advantages such as no lower bound and allowing for the calculation of climatological values. Yet, other indices (e.g., with higher dependencies on humidity) can have some added value, too. Thus, regardless of the performance in terms of matches, the optimal index to use strongly depends on the purpose of the warning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Heat Stress Response to National-Committed Emission Reductions under the Paris Agreement
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2202; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122202
Received: 22 May 2019 / Revised: 19 June 2019 / Accepted: 19 June 2019 / Published: 21 June 2019
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Abstract
With the changes in global temperature and humidity, heat stress is expected to intensify in the coming decades. Under the scenario that greenhouse gas emissions keep increasing until the end of this century, there is the possibility of extensive global exposure to high [...] Read more.
With the changes in global temperature and humidity, heat stress is expected to intensify in the coming decades. Under the scenario that greenhouse gas emissions keep increasing until the end of this century, there is the possibility of extensive global exposure to high heat stress. While under new mitigation efforts (as part of the Paris Agreement, signatory nations pledged to implement the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for emission reductions), the regional response of heat stress to pledged emission reductions remains unclear. In this study, we analyze the heat stress response in global hotspot regions, targeting emission scenarios resulting from the INDCs pledges. Our study revealed that under the INDCs-continuous mitigation, the heat stress effect in global hotspot regions (North China, South Asia, and the Amazon) is estimated to be lower than 29 °C in the next three decades and to be from >33 °C to less than 30 °C to this century end. The heat stress effect indicates a great reduction at the continuous mitigation compared with the delayed mitigation, and the population exposed to dangerous heat stress would also decrease approximately one order of magnitude. If limiting warming to a lesser amount (1.5/2 °C targets), significantly further reduction of the population exposed to heat stress in the middle and low latitudes can be achieved, thus avoiding the adverse effects associated with heat stress. Therefore, the national intended mitigation actions under the Paris Agreement will play a crucial role in reducing the heat stress risk in these hot and humid regions. These findings will help to improve the understanding of the future risks of heat stress and are crucial for mitigation and adaptation actions in hotspot areas (approximately 1/3 of the world’s population). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Heat Stress Perception among Native and Migrant Workers in Italian Industries—Case Studies from the Construction and Agricultural Sectors
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(7), 1090; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071090
Received: 4 March 2019 / Revised: 22 March 2019 / Accepted: 25 March 2019 / Published: 27 March 2019
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1174 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Climate change will increase the frequency and severity of hazard events such as heat waves, with important effects in several European regions. It is of importance to consider overall effects as well as specific impact on vulnerable population groups such as outdoor workers. [...] Read more.
Climate change will increase the frequency and severity of hazard events such as heat waves, with important effects in several European regions. It is of importance to consider overall effects as well as specific impact on vulnerable population groups such as outdoor workers. The agricultural and construction sectors represent two strategic occupational fields that in relatively recent years involve an increasing number of migrant workers, and therefore require a better management of cultural aspects, that may interact with and impact on heat-related health risk. For this reason, the present study evaluated heat-stress perception and management among native and immigrant workers in Europe. As part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 HEAT-SHIELD project (grant agreement No. 668786), two agricultural and one construction companies, traditionally employing migrant workers, were evaluated with a questionnaire survey during the summer months of 2017. The data collected (104 case studies) were analyzed using descriptive statistics (Chi-squared tests) and the analysis of variance was performed with ANOVA test. From the results, migrant workers declared that work required greater effort than do native Italian workers (χ2 = 17.1, p = 0.001) but reported less impact from heat on productivity (χ2 = 10.6; p = 0.014) and thermal discomfort. In addition, migrant workers were mainly informed through written or oral communications, while native workers received information on heat-health issues through training courses. These findings are of importance for future information and mitigation actions to address socio-cultural gaps and reduce heat-stress vulnerability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Heat Acclimation Does Not Protect Trained Males from Hyperthermia-Induced Impairments in Complex Task Performance
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050716
Received: 29 January 2019 / Revised: 22 February 2019 / Accepted: 25 February 2019 / Published: 28 February 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1330 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This study evaluated if adaptation to environmental heat stress can counteract the negative effects of hyperthermia on complex motor performance. Thirteen healthy, trained males completed 28 days of heat acclimation with 1 h daily exercise exposure to environmental heat (39.4 ± 0.3 °C [...] Read more.
This study evaluated if adaptation to environmental heat stress can counteract the negative effects of hyperthermia on complex motor performance. Thirteen healthy, trained males completed 28 days of heat acclimation with 1 h daily exercise exposure to environmental heat (39.4 ± 0.3 °C and 27.0 ± 1.0% relative humidity). Following comprehensive familiarization, the participants completed motor-cognitive testing before acclimation, as well as after 14 and 28 days of training in the heat. On all three occasions, the participants were tested, at baseline (after ~15 min passive heat exposure) and following exercise-induced hyperthermia which provoked an increase in core temperature of 2.8 ± 0.1 °C (similar across days). Both cognitively dominated test scores and motor performance were maintained during passive heat exposure (no reduction or difference between day 0, 14, and 28 compared to cool conditions). In contrast, complex motor task performance was significantly reduced in hyperthermic conditions by 9.4 ± 3.4% at day 0; 15.1 ± 5.0% at day 14, and 13.0 ± 4.8% at day 28 (all p < 0.05 compared to baseline but not different across days). These results let us conclude that heat acclimation cannot protect trained males from being negatively affected by hyperthermia when they perform complex tasks relying on a combination of cognitive performance and motor function. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Heat Waves Occurrence and Outdoor Workers’ Self-assessment of Heat Stress in Slovenia and Greece
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(4), 597; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16040597
Received: 30 January 2019 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 16 February 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2295 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Changing patterns of heat waves are part of the global warming effect and the importance of changes is reinforced by their negative impact on society. Firstly, heat waves were analyzed in Brnik (Slovenia) and Larisa (Greece) in the period 1981–2017 to reflect the [...] Read more.
Changing patterns of heat waves are part of the global warming effect and the importance of changes is reinforced by their negative impact on society. Firstly, heat waves were analyzed in Brnik (Slovenia) and Larisa (Greece) in the period 1981–2017 to reflect the environment which workers are exposed to. Secondly, outdoor workers (70 from Greece, 216 from Slovenia) provided a self-assessment of heat stress. The heat wave timeline is presented as an effective way of illustrating long-term changes in heat waves’ characteristics for various stakeholders. In both countries, workers assessed as significant the heat stress impact on productivity (Greece 69%, Slovenia 71%; p > 0.05), and in Slovenia also on well-being (74%; p < 0.01). The main experienced symptoms and diseases were thirst (Greece 70%, Slovenia 82%; p = 0.03), excessive sweating (67%, 85%; p = 0.01), exhaustion (51%, 62%; p > 0.05) and headache (44%, 53%; p > 0.05). The most common way to reduce heat stress was drinking more water (Greece 64%, Slovenia 82%; p = 0.001). Among the informed workers, the prevalent source of information was discussions. Therefore, educational campaigns are recommended, together with the testing of the efficiency of mitigation measures that will be proposed on the Heat-Shield project portal. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Dislike of Hot Thermal Conditions and Its Relationship with Sun (Ultraviolet Radiation) Exposure in the Southeastern United States
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2161; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102161
Received: 8 August 2018 / Revised: 21 September 2018 / Accepted: 25 September 2018 / Published: 1 October 2018
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Abstract
We investigated the relationship between peoples’ preferences for being outside during certain months of the year, based upon their dislike of hot or warm temperatures, and of taking precautions against ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure. A sample of university undergraduates (N = 1400) [...] Read more.
We investigated the relationship between peoples’ preferences for being outside during certain months of the year, based upon their dislike of hot or warm temperatures, and of taking precautions against ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure. A sample of university undergraduates (N = 1400) living in the Northern Hemisphere completed an online survey in the late summer of 2017 that inventoried their dislike of heat and hot conditions, their sun tanning preferences and habits, and their preferences for being outside during different months of the year, along with whether they would protect themselves from the UVR exposure during those months. Dislike of hot conditions was negatively correlated with respondent preferences for sun tanning and with the number of months during the year that people enjoyed being active outside. A greater proportion of people who disliked hot conditions experienced risks of UVR overexposure during the spring and fall. In contrast, people who expressed more liking of heat frequently enjoyed being outside during the warmer months (April to October), and a significantly greater proportion of them experienced risks for sun overexposure in these months. Such individual differences in heat-related attitudes may explain a proportion the variability in individual risk behaviors for skin cancer that is not currently accounted for by approaches using objective variables such as temperature, thermal comfort indices, or the UV index. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Overview of Existing Heat-Health Warning Systems in Europe
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(15), 2657; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16152657
Received: 28 June 2019 / Revised: 18 July 2019 / Accepted: 19 July 2019 / Published: 25 July 2019
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (362 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The frequency of extreme heat events, such as the summer of 2003 in Europe, and their corresponding consequences for human beings are expected to increase under a warmer climate. The joint collaboration of institutional agencies and multidisciplinary approaches is essential for a successful [...] Read more.
The frequency of extreme heat events, such as the summer of 2003 in Europe, and their corresponding consequences for human beings are expected to increase under a warmer climate. The joint collaboration of institutional agencies and multidisciplinary approaches is essential for a successful development of heat-health warning systems and action plans which can reduce the impacts of extreme heat on the population. The present work constitutes a state-of-the-art review of 16 European heat-health warning systems and heat-health action plans, based on the existing literature, web search (over the National Meteorological Services websites) and questionnaires. The aim of this study is to pave the way for future heat-health warning systems, such as the one currently under development in the framework of the Horizon 2020 HEAT-SHIELD project. Some aspects are highlighted among the variety of examined European warning systems. The meteorological variables that trigger the warnings should present a clear link with the impact under consideration and should be chosen depending on the purpose and target of the warnings. Setting long-term planning actions as well as pre-alert levels might prevent and reduce damages due to heat. Finally, education and communication are key elements of the success of a warning system. Full article
Open AccessReview
Heat Stress in Indoor Environments of Scandinavian Urban Areas: A Literature Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(4), 560; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16040560
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 5 February 2019 / Accepted: 10 February 2019 / Published: 15 February 2019
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (746 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Climate change increases the risks of heat stress, especially in urban areas where urban heat islands can develop. This literature review aims to describe how severe heat can occur and be identified in urban indoor environments, and what actions can be taken on [...] Read more.
Climate change increases the risks of heat stress, especially in urban areas where urban heat islands can develop. This literature review aims to describe how severe heat can occur and be identified in urban indoor environments, and what actions can be taken on the local scale. There is a connection between the outdoor and the indoor climate in buildings without air conditioning, but the pathways leading to the development of severe heat levels indoors are complex. These depend, for example, on the type of building, window placement, the residential area’s thermal outdoor conditions, and the residents’ influence and behavior. This review shows that only few studies have focused on the thermal environment indoors during heat waves, despite the fact that people commonly spend most of their time indoors and are likely to experience increased heat stress indoors in the future. Among reviewed studies, it was found that the indoor temperature can reach levels 50% higher in °C than the outdoor temperature, which highlights the importance of assessment and remediation of heat indoors. Further, most Heat-Health Warning Systems (HHWS) are based on the outdoor climate only, which can lead to a misleading interpretation of the health effects and associated solutions. In order to identify severe heat, six factors need to be taken into account, including air temperature, heat radiation, humidity, and air movement as well as the physical activity and the clothes worn by the individual. Heat stress can be identified using a heat index that includes these six factors. This paper presents some examples of practical and easy to use heat indices that are relevant for indoor environments as well as models that can be applied in indoor environments at the city level. However, existing indexes are developed for healthy workers and do not account for vulnerable groups, different uses, and daily variations. As a result, this paper highlights the need for the development of a heat index or the adjustment of current thresholds to apply specifically to indoor environments, its different uses, and vulnerable groups. There are several actions that can be taken to reduce heat indoors and thus improve the health and well-being of the population in urban areas. Examples of effective measures to reduce heat stress indoors include the use of shading devices such as blinds and vegetation as well as personal cooling techniques such as the use of fans and cooling vests. Additionally, the integration of innovative Phase Change Materials (PCM) into facades, roofs, floors, and windows can be a promising alternative once no negative health and environmental effects of PCM can be ensured. Full article
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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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