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A statistical downscaling algorithm for thermal comfort applications

Journal article
Authors D.P. Rayner
Fredrik Lindberg
Sofia Thorsson
Björn Holmer
Published in Journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology
Volume 122
Issue 3-4
Pages 729-742
ISSN 0177-798X
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 729-742
Language en
Subject categories Climate Research, Physical Geography, Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences


We describe a new two-step modeling framework for investigating the impact of climate change on human comfort in outdoor urban environments. In the first step, climate change scenarios for air temperature and solar radiation (global, diffuse, direct components) are created using a change-factor algorithm. The change factors are calculated by comparing ranked daily regional climate model outputs for a future-period and a present-day period, and then changes consistent with these daily change factors are applied to historical hourly climate observations. In the second step, the mean-radiant-temperature (Tmrt) is calculated using the SOLWEIG (SOlar and LongWave Environmental Irradiance Geometry) model. Tmrt, which describes the radiant heat exchange between a person and their surroundings, is one of the most important meteorologically derived parameters governing human energy balance and outdoor thermal comfort, especially during warm and sunny days.We demonstrate that change factors can be applied independently to maximum air temperature and daily global solar radiation, and show that the outputs from the algorithm, when aggregated to daily values, are consistent with the driving regional climate model. Finally, we demonstrate how to obtain quantitative information from the scenarios regarding the potential impact of climate change on outdoor thermal comfort, by calculating changes in the distribution of hourly summer day-time Tmrt and changes in the number of hours with Tmrt >55 °C.

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