UAE: High Discomfort Index due to Hot Weather

As temperatures soar to around 40°C in the UAE, stepping outdoors might give the impression of even higher temperatures, possibly nearing 50°C. This discrepancy is attributed to the heat index or discomfort index, which is relatively elevated across the country today. But what exactly does this mean? We reached out to an expert from the UAE's National Center of Meteorology to shed light on the matter.

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Unveiling the Heat Index: Factors and Effects

To comprehend the concept of the heat index, we must consider the impact of relative humidity (RH) on the "feeling temperature." The NCM expert explained that as RH increases, the perception of temperature rises. The ratio of RH plays a crucial role in determining the comfort index, which indicates the temperature experienced by the human body outdoors. For instance, if the official temperature reading is 40°C with an RH of 20%, the outdoor temperature will feel like 40°C. However, with RH at 65% or 75%, the outdoor temperature can feel like 45°C or even higher.

Understanding the Influence of Humidity on Body Sensation

The effect of the heat index on the human body can be better grasped by considering the relationship between perspiration and evaporation. When the body overheats, it perspires to cool itself down. Evaporating sweat helps reduce the body's temperature. However, in high humidity conditions, the rate of evaporation decreases, hindering the body's ability to regulate temperature effectively. This leads to the sensation of increased warmth. Conversely, in drier conditions with lower relative humidity, perspiration evaporates more readily, resulting in a cooler body sensation.

The Dynamic Nature of the Heat Index

The NCM expert emphasized that the heat index is not solely dependent on relative humidity. Other factors, such as wind speed and air mist, can also influence its fluctuations. On windy days with high temperatures, the perception of heat might be mitigated due to the cooling effect of the breeze. Additionally, the expert highlighted that relative humidity tends to increase during the night and early morning in the UAE. Calm wind conditions during these periods may lead to fog or mist formation, which contributes to higher relative humidity levels. However, despite the elevated humidity at night, temperatures typically decrease, resulting in a lower discomfort index , By understanding the heat index and its relationship with relative humidity, wind conditions, and time of day, individuals can better gauge and adapt to the weather conditions in the UAE, ensuring their comfort and well-being during hot summer days.

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