The relationship between bioclimatic thermal stress and subjective thermal sensation in pedestrian spaces

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Outdoor thermal comfort has important implications for urban planning and energy consumption in the built environment. To better understand the relation of subjective thermal experience to bioclimatic thermal stress in such contexts, this study compares micrometeorological and perceptual data from urban spaces in the hot-arid Negev region of Israel. Pedestrians reported on their thermal sensation in these spaces, whereas radiation and convection-related data were used to compute the Index of Thermal Stress (ITS) and physiologically equivalent temperature (PET). The former is a straightforward characterization of energy exchanges between the human body and its surroundings, without any conversion to an "equivalent temperature." Although the relation of ITS to subjective thermal sensation has been analyzed in the past under controlled indoor conditions, this paper offers the first analysis of this relation in an outdoor setting. ITS alone can account for nearly 60 % of the variance in pedestrians’ thermal sensation under outdoor conditions, somewhat more than PET. A series of regressions with individual contextual variables and ITS identified those factors which accounted for additional variance in thermal sensation, whereas multivariate analyses indicated the considerable predictive power (R-square = 0.74) of models including multiple contextual variables in addition to ITS. Our findings indicate that pedestrians experiencing variable outdoor conditions have a greater tolerance for incremental changes in thermal stress than has been shown previously under controlled indoor conditions, with a tapering of responses at high values of ITS. However, the thresholds of ITS corresponding to thermal “neutrality” and thermal "acceptability" are quite consistent regardless of context.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2111-2127
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 14 Nov 2014


  • Energy modeling
  • Human perception
  • Thermal comfort
  • Urban climate

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science


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