International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 591–603 | Cite as

Thermal comfort in Quebec City, Canada: sensitivity analysis of the UTCI and other popular thermal comfort indices in a mid-latitude continental city

  • Simon Provençal
  • Onil Bergeron
  • Richard Leduc
  • Nathalie Barrette
Original Paper


The newly developed Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI), along with the physiological equivalent temperature (PET), the humidex (HX) and the wind chill index (WC), was calculated in Quebec City, Canada, a city with a strong seasonal climatic variability, over a 1-year period. The objective of this study is twofold: evaluate the operational benefits of implementing the UTCI for a climate monitoring program of public comfort and health awareness as opposed to relying on traditional and simple indices, and determine whether thermal comfort monitoring specific to dense urban neighborhoods is necessary to adequately fulfill the goals of the program. In order to do so, an analysis is performed to evaluate each of these indices’ sensitivity to the meteorological variables that regulate them in different environments. Overall, the UTCI was found to be slightly more sensitive to mean radiant temperature, moderately more sensitive to humidity and much more sensitive to wind speed than the PET. This dynamic changed slightly depending on the environment and the season. In hot weather, the PET was found to be more sensitive to mean radiant temperature and therefore reached high values that could potentially be hazardous more frequently than the UTCI and the HX. In turn, the UTCI’s stronger sensitivity to wind speed makes it a superior index to identify potentially hazardous weather in winter compared to the PET and the WC. Adopting the UTCI broadly would be an improvement over the traditionally popular HX and WC indices. The urban environment produced favorable conditions to sustain heat stress conditions, where the indices reached high values more frequently there than in suburban locations, which advocates for weather monitoring specific to denser urban areas.


Thermal comfort Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) Physiological equivalent temperature (PET) Humidex Wind chill index Quebec City 



The authors are grateful to Environment Canada for supplying the meteorological data at the Jean-Lesage and Sainte-Foy stations, and to Dr. Andreas Matzarakis for providing the RayMan software. This project was funded by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Provençal
    • 1
  • Onil Bergeron
    • 2
  • Richard Leduc
    • 1
  • Nathalie Barrette
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de géographieUniversité LavalQuebec CityCanada
  2. 2.Direction du suivi de l’état de l’environnementMinistère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiquesQuebec CityCanada

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