Climate Change Research ›› 2020, Vol. 16 ›› Issue (4): 424-432.doi: 10.12006/j.issn.1673-1719.2019.253

• Disaster Responses to Climate Change • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Estimation of future global population exposure to heatwaves—based on the heat stress index

CHEN Xi1,2(), LI Ning1,2, ZHANG Zheng-Tao3, LIU Jia-Wei4, WANG Fang1,2   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Environmental Change and Natural Disaster, Ministry of Education, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2 Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, Ministry of Emergency Management and Ministry of Education & Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    3 Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    4 Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters (CIC-FEMD)/ Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster, Ministry of Education (KLME)/ Joint International Research Laboratory of Climate and Environment Change (ILCEC), Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
  • Received:2019-11-04 Revised:2019-12-15 Online:2020-07-30 Published:2020-08-05


Climate changes have contributed to increasing heatwaves all over the world. Wet bulb globe temperature, is a combined measure of temperature and humidity effects on the thermal condition. Thus it is a better indicator of the impact of heatwaves on humans than temperatures alone, and used to define heatwaves in this study. Utilizing simulated daily mean surface temperature and relative humidity from climate models participating in the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) and spatially explicit population projection from the Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP), we estimate change in future population exposure to heat waves taking account of both climate and population factors. Results show that during the historical period (1986-2005), geographic variations in exposure are generally a function of population and tend to be the highest in the Indian subcontinent, east and southeast of China. During the 2081-2100 period, exposure remains high in these regions, however substantial portions of the globe are expected to have large increases, particularly across the tropical regions. Significant differences exist in exposure change among different regions. South Asia is projected to have the largest annual mean exposure increase of approaching 300 million person-days, but in North Australia, North Asia and Canada, the increase is less than 1 million person-days. For the vast majority of tropical regions, the combined effect contributes to total change in exposure most prominently. But the climate effect is the most important factor for the middle and high latitudes. At the global level, the combined effect is the most prominent contributor to overall change in exposure.

Key words: Heatwaves, Wet bulb globe temperature, Population exposure, Global, Projections

Copyright © Climate Change Research, All Rights Reserved.
Tel: (010)58995171 E-mail:
Powered by Beijing Magtech Co. Ltd