Thermal bioclimatic conditions and patterns of behaviour in an urban park in Göteborg, Sweden


People in urban areas frequently use parks for recreation and outdoor activities. Owing to the complexity of the outdoor environment, there have only been a few attempts to understand the effect of the thermal environment on people's use of outdoor spaces. This paper therefore seeks to determine the relationship between the thermal environment, park use and behavioural patterns in an urban area of Sweden. The methods used include structured interviews, unobtrusive observations of the naturally occurring behaviour and simultaneous measurements of thermal comfort variables, i.e., air temperature, air humidity, wind speed and global radiation. The thermal environment is investigated through the mean radiant temperature (T mrt) and the predicted mean vote (PMV) index. The outcome is compared to the subjective behaviour and thermal sensation of the interviewees. It is found that the thermal environment, access and design are important factors in the use of the park. In order to continue to use the park when the thermal conditions become too cold or too hot for comfort, people improve their comfort conditions by modifying their clothing and by choosing the most supportive thermal opportunities available within the place. The study also shows that psychological aspects such as time of exposure, expectations, experience and perceived control may influence the subjective assessment. Comparison between the thermal sensation of the interviewees and the thermal sensation assessed by the PMV index indicates that steady-state models such as the PMV index may not be appropriate for the assessment of short-term outdoor thermal comfort, mainly because they are unable to analyse transient exposure.

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The authors wish to thank Assistant Professor Ingegärd Eliasson, Dr Marie Eriksson and Mr. Fredrik Lindberg for their valuable comments on the manuscript. Assistant Professor Andreas Matzarakis is acknowledged for initiating discussions on the study and Mr. Hans Alter for technical support.

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Correspondence to Sofia Thorsson.

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Thorsson, S., Lindqvist, M. & Lindqvist, S. Thermal bioclimatic conditions and patterns of behaviour in an urban park in Göteborg, Sweden. Int J Biometeorol 48, 149–156 (2004).

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  • Thermal comfort
  • Human behaviour
  • Structured interviews
  • Observations
  • Urban park