UTCI-Why another thermal index?

Gerd Jendritzky*, Richard de Dear, George Havenith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

571 Citations (Scopus)


Existing procedures for the assessment of the thermal environment in the fields of public weather services, public health systems, precautionary planning, urban design, tourism and recreation and climate impact research exhibit significant shortcomings. This is most evident for simple (mostly two-parameter) indices, when comparing them to complete heat budget models developed since the 1960s. ISB Commission 6 took up the idea of developing a Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) based on the most advanced multi-node model of thermoregulation representing progress in science within the last three to four decades, both in thermo-physiological and heat exchange theory. Creating the essential research synergies for the development of UTCI required pooling the resources of multidisciplinary experts in the fields of thermal physiology, mathematical modelling, occupational medicine, meteorological data handling (in particular radiation modelling) and application development in a network. It was possible to extend the expertise of ISB Commission 6 substantially by COST (a European programme promoting Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action 730 so that finally over 45 scientists from 23 countries (Australia, Canada, Israel, several Europe countries, New Zealand, and the United States) worked together. The work was performed under the umbrella of the WMO Commission on Climatology (CCl). After extensive evaluations, Fiala's multi-node human physiology and thermal comfort model (FPC) was adopted for this study. The model was validated extensively, applying as yet unused data from other research groups, and extended for the purposes of the project. This model was coupled with a state-of-the-art clothing model taking into consideration behavioural adaptation of clothing insulation by the general urban population in response to actual environmental temperature. UTCI was then derived conceptually as an equivalent temperature (ET). Thus, for any combination of air temperature, wind, radiation, and humidity (stress), UTCI is defined as the isothermal air temperature of the reference condition that would elicit the same dynamic response (strain) of the physiological model. As UTCI is based on contemporary science its use will standardise applications in the major fields of human biometeorology, thus making research results comparable and physiologically relevant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-428
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Index
  • Model
  • Outdoor climate
  • Thermal assessment
  • Thermal stress
  • Thermo-physiology


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