Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Human-Perceived Temperature Extremes and Underlying Uncertainties

J. Zhu, S. Wang (Corresponding Author), G. Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


It has been suggested that global warming impacts on human thermal comfort will cause an increase in the heat stress and a decrease in the cold stress in the future. A recent study has shown elevated increases in human-perceived equivalent temperature (HPET) by using a single index for summer and winter seasons (Li et al., 2018, However, they have not considered multiple indices with combined effects on deriving HPET, which can result in large uncertainties in assessing climate change impacts on HPET and related extremes. Therefore, we develop a new framework with high-resolution projections and an ensemble of 10 indices to quantify the impacts of climate change on HPET and related perceived extremes as well as to address uncertainties in both empirical indices and emission scenarios over China. Our findings reveal that different combinations of climatic variables can lead to two opposite conclusions for both normal and extreme conditions. For example, by using indices only considering the combined effect of temperature and relative humidity, China is projected to have an elevated increase in the HPET and in the frequency of high-temperature extremes. By taking into account wind speed, the country expects to have the HPET even lower than the surface air temperature and an increase in the frequency of low-temperature extremes. In addition, the resulting range of HPET due to uncertainty in indices is greater than the uncertainty range derived from different emission scenarios for the entire country. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive assessment that explicitly addresses uncertainties in the HPET in order to improve the robustness and reliability of assessing climate change impacts on human-perceived temperature extremes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3800-3821
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2019


  • combined effect
  • multiple climatic variables
  • RCP
  • regional climate modeling
  • uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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