Original Article

International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 71-75

First online:

The physiological equivalent temperature – a universal index for the biometeorological assessment of the thermal environment

  • P. HöppeAffiliated withInstitute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Ziemssenstr. 1, D-80336 München, Germany e-mail: P.Hoeppe@lrz.uni-muenchen.de Tel.: +49-89-5160-2466 (2470), Fax: +49-89-5160-3957 (4444)

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With considerably increased coverage of weather information in the news media in recent years in many countries, there is also more demand for data that are applicable and useful for everyday life. Both the perception of the thermal component of weather as well as the appropriate clothing for thermal comfort result from the integral effects of all meteorological parameters relevant for heat exchange between the body and its environment. Regulatory physiological processes can affect the relative importance of meteorological parameters, e.g. wind velocity becomes more important when the body is sweating. In order to take into account all these factors, it is necessary to use a heat-balance model of the human body. The physiological equivalent temperature (PET) is based on the Munich Energy-balance Model for Individuals (MEMI), which models the thermal conditions of the human body in a physiologically relevant way. PET is defined as the air temperature at which, in a typical indoor setting (without wind and solar radiation), the heat budget of the human body is balanced with the same core and skin temperature as under the complex outdoor conditions to be assessed. This way PET enables a layperson to compare the integral effects of complex thermal conditions outside with his or her own experience indoors. On hot summer days, for example, with direct solar irradiation the PET value may be more than 20 K higher than the air temperature, on a windy day in winter up to 15 K lower.

Key words Thermal comfort Energy balance model Comfort index