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The Biophysics of Human Heat Exchange

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Heat Stress in Sport and Exercise

Abstract

This chapter describes the fundamental factors that influence heat exchange between the human body and its surrounding environment. The bulk of heat exchange takes place at the skin surface via sensible heat transfer (i.e. convection and radiation) and evaporation. With increasing ambient temperature, the gradient for sensible heat transfer declines, meaning that the human body becomes increasingly dependent on the evaporation of sweat for heat dissipation. If the combination of climate (air temperature, radiant temperature, humidity and air velocity) and clothing permit a sufficient level of heat dissipation to counterbalance the rate of internal heat production, elevations in core temperature are moderated (i.e. compensable heat stress). However, if heat production exceeds the upper capacity to lose heat from the skin surface due to high ambient temperatures, humidity, low wind speeds or high evaporative resistance of clothing, a continuous increase in core temperature occurs (i.e. uncompensable heat stress).

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Ravanelli, N., Bongers, C.C.W.G., Jay, O. (2019). The Biophysics of Human Heat Exchange. In: Périard, J., Racinais, S. (eds) Heat Stress in Sport and Exercise. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93515-7_2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93515-7_2

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