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NOAA: Climate change may force workers in hot climates to take twice as many breaks by 2050


A soldier drinks cools off on a hot day (courtesy: U.S. Army)
A soldier drinks cools off on a hot day (courtesy: U.S. Army)

Staff writers

February 25, 2013 — A new study by NOAA suggests that outside workers - and employees in buildings without air conditioning - will have to take twice as many breaks by 2050, courtesy of climate change.

A warming climate could have a significant impact on worker capacity  (courtesy: Sheila Bishop)
A warming climate could have a significant impact on worker capacity (courtesy: Sheila Bishop)

Outdoor workers and employees in tropical regions without access to air conditioning may have to take more breaks as the climate warms, according to NOAA.

“Most studies of the direct impact of global warming on humans have focused on mortality under either extreme weather events or theoretical physiological limits. We wanted instead to describe climate warming in practical terms that people commonly experience already,” said John Dunne, Ph.D., of the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and lead author of the study in a statement.

It's estimated that during the hottest months of the year, workers currently spend about 10% of their time resting. By 2050, the amount of required rest time is expected to double to 20%.

“We were looking for a way to quantify how the climate warming projected by our models will impact the Earth’s population that was at the same time practical, relevant, physiologically sound, and made best use of our models’ strengths while accounting for their weaknesses. This new perspective quantifies the direct human impact of climate warming,” Dunne said.

The research has been published online at Nature Climate Change.

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