Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 977-994, 2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
19 Apr 2016
Factors of subjective heat stress of urban citizens in contexts of everyday life
Tina Kunz-Plapp1, Julia Hackenbruch2, and Janus Willem Schipper2 1Geophysical Institute, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
2South German Climate Office, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
Abstract. Heat waves and the consequent heat stress of urban populations have a growing relevance in urban risk management and strategies of urban adaptation to climate change. In this context, social science studies on subjective experiencing of heat as stress by urban citizens are a new emerging field. To contribute to the understanding of self-reported subjective heat stress and its major determinants in a daily life perspective, we conducted a questionnaire survey with 323 respondents in Karlsruhe, Germany, after heat waves in July and August 2013. Statistical data analysis showed that subjective heat stress is an issue permeating everyday activities. Subjective heat stress at home was lower than at work and in general. Subjective heat stress in general, at home, and at work was determined by the health impairments experienced during the heat and the feeling of being helplessly exposed to the heat. For subjective heat stress at home, characteristics of the residential building and the built environment additionally played a role. Although the rate of implemented coping measures was rather high, coping measures showed no uniform effect for the subjective heat stress. We conclude that in terms of urban adaptation strategies, further research is needed to understand how various processes of daily social (work) life enable or limit individual coping and that communication strategies are important for building capacities to better cope with future heat waves.

Citation: Kunz-Plapp, T., Hackenbruch, J., and Schipper, J. W.: Factors of subjective heat stress of urban citizens in contexts of everyday life, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 977-994, doi:10.5194/nhess-16-977-2016, 2016.
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Short summary
We present a survey on subjective heat stress experienced by 323 residents of Karlsruhe, Germany, during heat waves in summer 2013. The results show that subjective heat stress permeates daily life, and measures to cope with heat are performed within the scope of action in daily life. Various individual, social, and environmental factors influence the individual heat stress level. For societal adaptation, further research is necessary on how daily life enables or limits coping with heat.
We present a survey on subjective heat stress experienced by 323 residents of Karlsruhe,...