Weather and Climate Information for Risk Management

Symposia

The Organising Committee of the 21st International Congress of Biometeorology is very pleased to announce that the following four Symposia will be a part of the 21st International Congress of Biometeorology programme. Brief descriptions of the Symposia are given below.

1. Observing, Modelling and Managing Diverging Ecological Responses to Climate Change

The change of the growing season is one of the most obvious effects of climate change. Changes of the start, end, length and shape of the growing season, as well as changes of the timing of particular species and phases, affect basic ecosystem properties and services. As different species (and locally adapted populations) respond differently to the changing conditions, much attention is being given to changing synchronicity (e.g. questions of mismatch) between species and their biotic and abiotic interactions, and the potential risk it poses for human health (e.g. pollen allergy), optimal crop and forestry productivity (frost, drought and pests), conservation and ecosystem services (pollination). Understanding the long-term trends as well as the mechanisms behind divergent responses is an essential part of management and mitigation of climate change effects via phenology. This symposium will address some of these issues.

2. Integrating Climate Information and Individual Physiology for Improved Heat Warning

Health challenges related to heat stress range from mild hyperthermia though lower productivity in occupational settings to increased clinical morbidity and mortality during heat waves. Both general and vulnerable populations experience such challenges when the environmental temperature suddenly increases, and especially when it reaches extreme and persistent high values. Given the frequency of heat waves and hyperthermia-related incidents will increase out of proportion to the average rise in global temperature, the importance of effective heat-warning systems is evident. The impact of environmental heat stress relies not only on climate factors, but also on individual physiology and behavior related to thermoregulation. For warning purposes, climate services may refine the ability to predict current and upcoming environmental conditions, but these data may become much more valuable when combined with individual characteristics and integrated/translated into optimized strategies that can be provided in a timely fashion when adverse climate conditions are in progress. For these reasons, it is increasingly necessary to integrate the current heat-health warning systems, active in some European countries, with more efficient communication strategies based on modern technologies that can rapidly alert vulnerable people and warn as well as advise working people.

The symposium will take a cross-disciplinary approach to the meteorological, physiological, behavioural, clothing, hydration and communication aspects of importance for improved risk management. This will translate into regional heat warning and individualized implementable strategies. Invited speakers in combination with experts from two European projects working on heat-warning systems will provide a broad biometeorological basis as well as provide the audience with advanced input from the specific scientific perspectives on environmental heat stress in workplace situations.

3. Thermometers on People? Opportunities and Challenges for Personal Heat Exposure Research

Reducing health risks associated with heat exposure is a contemporary priority for biometeorologists, public health practitioners, and urban planners around the world. Researchers have begun to direct efforts to more systematically understand the nature of personal heat exposure to complement traditional studies of outdoor conditions. New weather and climate information is emerging from recent and ongoing studies in which the measurement setting for heat is shifted from places to people. The goal of this symposium is to bring together researchers pursuing and interested in personal heat exposure science to discuss the different methodological approaches and perspectives that can be applied to understand the nature of the heat-health hazard at the individual level and opportunities for personal heat exposure information to improve climate adaptation strategies. Key questions to be discussed include: (1) How can personal heat exposure research shape our understanding of the impacts of extreme heat and climate change on human health? and (2) What are the major methodological challenges facing PHE researchers in their efforts to meaningfully assess and/or represent exposure for vulnerable individuals? Anticipated benefits to symposium participants include the continued development of a community of practice and exchange of lessons learned from prior experiences that will aid future research efforts.