Elevated increases in human-perceived temperature under climate warming

Jianfeng Li, Yongqin David Chen, Thian Yew Gan, Ngar Cheung Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Changes in air temperature (AT), humidity and wind speed (Wind) affect apparent temperature (AP), the human-perceived equivalent temperature 1-3 . Here we show that under climate warming, both reanalysis data sets and Global Climate Model simulations indicate that AP has increased faster than AT over land. The faster increase in AP has been especially significant over low latitudes and is expected to continue in the future. The global land average AP increased at 0.04 °C per decade faster than AT before 2005. This trend is projected to increase to 0.06 °C (0.03-0.09 °C; minimum and maximum of the ensemble members) per decade and 0.17 °C (0.12-0.25 °C) per decade under the Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 scenario (RCP4.5) and RCP8.5, respectively, and reduce to 0.02 °C (0-0.03 °C) per decade under RCP2.6 over 2006-2100. The higher increment in AP in summer daytime is more remarkable than in winter night-time and is most prominent over low latitudes. The summertime increases in AT-based thermal discomfort are projected to balance the wintertime decreases in AT-based discomfort over low and middle latitudes, while the summertime increases in AP-based thermal discomfort are expected to outpace the wintertime decreases in AP-based thermal discomfort. Effective climate change mitigation efforts to achieve RCP2.6 can considerably alleviate the faster increase in AP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages5
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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