Adapting to Changing Labor Productivity as a Result of Intensified Heat Stress in a Changing Climate

Jinxin Zhu, Shuo Wang, Boen Zhang, Dagang Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The intensification of heat stress reduces the labor capacity and hence poses a threat to socio-economic development. The reliable projection of the changing climate and the development of sound adaptation strategies are thus desired for adapting to the decreasing labor productivity under climate change. In this study, an optimization modeling approach coupled with dynamical downscaling is proposed to design the optimal adaptation strategies for improving labor productivity under heat stress in China. The future changes in heat stress represented by the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) are projected with a spatial resolution of 25 × 25 km by a regional climate model (RCM) through the dynamical downscaling of its driving global climate model (GCM). Uncertain information such as system costs, environmental costs, and subsidies are also incorporated into the optimization process to provide reliable decision alternatives for improving labor productivity. Results indicate that the intensification of WBGT is overestimated by the GCM compared to the RCM. Such an overestimation can lead to more losses in working hours derived from the GCM than those from the RCM regardless of climate scenarios. Nevertheless, the overestimated heat stress does not alter the regional measures taken to adapt to decreasing labor productivity. Compared to inland regions, the monsoon-affected regions tend to improve labor productivity by applying air conditioning rather than working overtime due to the cost differences. Consequently, decision-makers need to optimally make a balance between working overtime and air conditioning measures to meet sustainable development goals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GH000313
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • adaptation
  • dynamical downscaling
  • heat stress
  • interval programming model
  • labor productivity
  • uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Epidemiology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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