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Temperature humidity index scenarios in the Mediterranean basin

Abstract

The study was undertaken to describe the temperature humidity index (THI) dynamics over the Mediterranean basin for the period 1971–2050. The THI combines temperature and humidity into a single value, and has been widely used to predict the effects of environmental warmth in farm animals. The analysis was based on daily outputs of the temperature and relative humidity from the Max Planck Institute data using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report Emission Scenario A1B. Data revealed a gradual increase of both annual and seasonal THI during the period under investigation and a strong heterogeneity of the Mediterranean area. In particular, the analysis indicated that Spain, southern France and Italy should be expected to undergo the highest THI increase, which in the last decade under study (2041–2050) will range between 3 and 4 units. However, only during summer months the area presents characteristics indicating risk of thermal (heat) stress for farm animals. In this regard, scenario maps relative to the summer season suggested an enlargement of the areas in the basin where summer THI values will likely cause thermal discomfort in farm animals. In conclusion, the study indicated that the Mediterranean basin is likely to undergo THI changes, which may aggravate the consequences of hot weather on animal welfare, performances, health and survival and may help farmers, nutritionists, veterinarians, and policy-makers to develop appropriate adaptation strategies to limit consequences of climate change for the livestock sector in the Mediterranean countries.

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Acknowledgements

This study was financially supported by EU (CIRCE Integrated Project # 036961), and Università degli Studi della Tuscia.

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Correspondence to N. Lacetera.

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Segnalini, M., Bernabucci, U., Vitali, A. et al. Temperature humidity index scenarios in the Mediterranean basin. Int J Biometeorol 57, 451–458 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-012-0571-5

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Keywords

  • Mediterranean basin
  • Temperature humidity index
  • Scenarios
  • Livestock