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Inclusion of short-term adaptation to thermal stresses in a heat load warning procedure

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It is considered to be very probable that the frequency and intensity of heat waves will increase and that heat waves, such as the one experienced in Europe in 2003, will not remain an exception. Everything goes to suggest that human beings have adapted to their local climate. Extreme events such as heat waves, for example, can, however, cause considerable stress to the thermoregulative processes in the human organism. Heat load warning systems provide a possibility for reducing heat-induced morbidity and mortality. We are presenting a method that, apart from a thermophysiologically relevant evaluation of the environment, also takes into account short-term adaptation processes of human beings to the thermal environment. The forecast method differs from previously used methods in that it is based on a combination of absolute and relative thresholds and thus includes the local adaptation to the thermal conditions of the previous weeks. This is an attempt to give a quantitative description of the mainly qualitative statements in literature on acclimatisation. A further advantage of this method is that, due to the inclusion of relative, i.e. local, conditions, it can, in principle, be applied to all climates.

Es gilt als sehr wahrscheinlich, dass die Häufigkeit und Intensität von Hitzewellen zunehmen wird und dass Hitzewellen, wie jene im Jahr 2003 in Europa kein Einzelfall bleiben. Alles deutet darauf hin, dass die Menschen an ihr Lokalklima angepasst sind. Extremereignisse wie beispielsweise Hitzewellen k¨onnen jedoch erheblichen Stress auf die thermoregulativen Prozesse des menschlichen Organismus aus üben. Hitzewarnsysteme bieten eine M¨oglichkeit die hitzebedingte Morbidität und Mortalität zu verringern. Es wird ein Verfahren vorgestellt, dass neben einer thermophysiologisch relevanten Bewertung der Umwelt auch kurzfristige Anpassungsvorgänge des Menschen an die thermische Umgebung berücksichtigt. Das Vorhersageverfahren unterscheidet sich von den bisher gängigen Methoden dahingehend, dass es auf einer Kombination aus absoluten und relativen Schwellen basiert und damit die lokale Anpassung an die thermischen Bedingungen der vergangenen Wochen einbezieht. Damit wird versucht, die überwiegend qualitativen Aussagen in der Literatur zur Akklimatisation quantitativ zu beschreiben. Ein weiterer Vorteil dieses Verfahren ist, dass es aufgrund der Einbeziehung relativer, d.h. lokaler Bedingungen grundsätzlich in allen Klimaten angewendet werden kann.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-04-01

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  • Meteorologische Zeitschrift (originally founded in 1866) is the joint periodical of the meteorological societies of Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It accepts high-quality peer-reviewed manuscripts on all aspects of observational, theoretical and computational research out of the entire field of meteorology, including climatology. Meteorologische Zeitschrift represents a natural forum for the meteorological community of Central Europe and worldwide.
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