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Review of studies on outdoor thermal comfort in warm humid climates: challenges of informal urban fabric

Baruti, Modest Maurus, Johansson, Erik, Åstrand, Johnny
International journal of biometeorology 2019 v.63 no.10 pp. 1449-1462
air flow, bioclimatology, cities, developing countries, humans, humid zones, temperate zones, thermal stress, towns
In warm humid climate regions where majority of the population spend most of the time outdoors, an adequate outdoor thermal environment is crucial. A number of studies on outdoor thermal comfort in warm humid climates were carried out in the past decade. However, most of these studies focused on the formal urban fabric and left the informal urban fabric, where typically 30 to 85% of the population in developing countries resides, unattended. Theoretically, the informal urban fabric structure of towns/cities poses many outdoor thermal environmental challenges, such as lack of air movement, high thermal stress and discomfort. This paper reviews previous research on outdoor thermal comfort in warm humid climates, and, particularly, it focuses on the relationship between outdoor thermal comfort and urban fabric as well as human thermal perception. Regarding the formal urban fabric, this review asserts that the thermal comfort range is higher in warm humid climates than in temperate climates and that thermal indices alone cannot predict thermal comfort; behavioural and psychological adaptation have proven to have a big impact on thermal perception. As for the informal urban fabric, only few studies have investigated the influence of the urban geometry and none has studied people’s thermal perception of the outdoor thermal environment. To conclude, the article highlights practical challenges posed by the informal urban fabric in contrast to the formal urban fabric in terms of structure (morphology).