ICB 2011 - Students / New Professionals

International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 137-148

First online:

Climate change and thermal comfort in Hong Kong

  • Chi Shing Calvin CheungAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of Hong Kong Email author 
  • , Melissa Anne HartAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of Hong KongAustralian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, The University of New South Wales

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Thermal comfort is a major issue in cities and it is expected to change in the future due to the changing climate. The objective of this paper is to use the universal thermal comfort index (UTCI) to compare the outdoor thermal comfort in Hong Kong in the past (1971–2000) and the future (2046–2065 and 2081–2100). The future climate of Hong Kong was determined by the general circulation model (GCM) simulations of future climate scenarios (A1B and B1) established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Three GCMs were chosen, GISS-ER, GFDL-CM2.1 and MRI-CGCM2.3.2, based on their performance in simulating past climate. Through a statistical downscaling procedure, the future climatic variables were transferred to the local scale. The UTCI is calculated by four predicted climate variables: air temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and solar radiation. After a normalisation procedure, future UTCI profiles for the urban area of Hong Kong were created. Comparing the past UTCI (calculated by observation data) and future UTCI, all three GCMs predicted that the future climate scenarios have a higher mode and a higher maximum value. There is a shift from ‘No Thermal Stress’ toward ‘Moderate Heat Stress’ and ‘Strong Heat Stress’ during the period 2046–2065, becoming more severe for the later period (2081–2100). Comparing the two scenarios, B1 exhibited similar projections in the two time periods whereas for A1B there was a significant difference, with both the mode and maximum increasing by 2 °C from 2046–2065 to 2081–2100.


Thermal comfort Future climate scenario General circulation model Statistical downscaling Universal thermal comfort index