During the last century about 100 indices were developed to assess influences of the atmosphere on human being. However, most of them have not close relationships with physiological reactions in man. In 1999 International Society of Biometeorology established special study group do develop new Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI). Since 2005 these efforts have been reinforced by the COST Action 730 (Cooperation in Science and Technical Development). In February 2009 the Action was terminated and UTCI was developed.
The new UTCI index represents air temperature of the reference condition with the same physiological response as the actual condition. The index base on Fiala model that is one of the most advanced multi-node thermophysiological models and include the capability to predict both whole body thermal effects (hypothermia and hyperthermia; heat and cold discomfort), and local effects (facial, hands and feet cooling and frostbite). The model consists of two interacting systems: the controlling active system; and the controlled passive system. The assessment scale of UTCI bases on the intensity of objective physiological reactions to environmental heat stress in wide range of weather and climates. The index can be applicable in various research, for example in weather forecasts, bioclimatological assessments, bioclimatic mapping in all scales (from micro to macro), urban design, engineering of outdoor spaces, consultancy for where to live, outdoor recreation and climatotherapy, epidemiology and climate impact research.
The paper presents thermophysiological principles of UTCI as well as some examples of its application to assess bioclimatic differentiation of Europe.
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