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Assessing heat-related health risk in Europe via the Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI)

Di Napoli, C., Pappenberger, F. and Cloke, H. ORCID: (2018) Assessing heat-related health risk in Europe via the Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI). International Journal of Biometeorology, 62 (7). pp. 1155-1165. ISSN 1432-1254

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00484-018-1518-2


In this work the potential of the Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) as a heat-related health risk indicator in Europe is demonstrated. The UTCI is a bioclimate index that uses a multi-node human heat balance model to represent the heat stress induced by meteorological conditions to the human body. Using 38 years of meteorological reanalysis data, UTCI maps were computed to assess the thermal bioclimate of Europe for the summer season. Patterns of heat stress conditions and non-thermal stress regions are identified across Europe. An increase in heat stress up to 1°C is observed during recent decades. Correlation with mortality data from 17 European countries revealed that the relationship between the UTCI and death counts depends on the bioclimate of the country, and death counts increase in conditions of moderate and strong stress, i.e. when UTCI is above 26°C and 32°C. The UTCI’s ability to represent mortality patterns is demonstrated for the 2003 European heatwave. These findings confirm the importance of UTCI as a bioclimatic index that is able to both capture the thermal bioclimatic variability of Europe, and relate such variability with the effects it has on human health.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:75649


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