Heat and Human Comfort in a Town in Brazil’s Semi-arid Region

By Rebecca Luna Lucena, Tacio Henrique de Freitas Santos, Almir Miranda Ferreira and Ercilia Torres Steinke.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 16, 2016 $US5.00

The aim of this study was to assess the evolution of registered air temperatures in the town of Caicó, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, over a fifteen-year period (from 1996 to 2010), analysing the heat susceptibility of the local inhabitants through the human comfort indices for the same period. In order to discuss the relationship between the temperatures and the issue of human thermal comfort in Caicó, three indices of human thermal comfort were applied: Discomfort Index (DI), the Effective Temperature taking wind velocity (ETv), and the Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI). We found that in Caicó the air temperature is naturally very high, with daily means circa 30°C, maximum temperatures ~35°C and minimum temperatures around 24°C, putting Caicó at the limit of the human comfort zone almost year round. Even though temperature changes were not detected in the studied fifteen-year period, the thermal indices show us that Caicó experienced thermal stress due to heat each of the studied years(1996–2010), and it is only in the winter time—in July, August, and September—that Caicó has no thermal stress. We also verified a lack of compatibility between the construction materials used in the buildings, urban forestry, and the town’s climatic reality in Caicó city. This situation could be exacerbated in the future if air temperatures rise due to global warming, bringing risks to the local inhabitants.

Keywords: Brazil’s Semi-arid Region, Air Temperatures, Human Comfort Indices

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 8, Issue 4, December 2016, pp.15-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 16, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1008.873KB)).

Rebecca Luna Lucena

PhD student, Departamento de Geografia da Universidade de Brasília, Brazil, Universidade de Brasília - UNB, Brasília, Distrito Federal, Brazil

Tacio Henrique de Freitas Santos

Scholarship Student in Climatological Station, Departamento de Geografia da UFRN, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Caicó, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

Almir Miranda Ferreira

Teacher and PhD student, Departamento de Estatística da UFRN, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Caicó, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

Ercilia Torres Steinke

Teacher, Departamento de Geografia, Universidade de Brasília - UNB, Brasília, Distrito Federal, Brazil


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