University of Florence (UNIFI), Italy
The Interdepartmental Centre of Bioclimatology (CIBIC) of the University of Florence has the aim to promote, coordinate, organize and support the multidisciplinary research activity in the field of Bioclimatology. CIBIC gained long-standing experience in the field of weather-related human health, with particular attention to the effects of air temperature changes (both high and low temperatures) on vulnerable groups and specific pathologies and cardiovascular risk factors (i.e. blood pressure). Pertinent with the aims of the Project proposal, since 2000 CIBIC worked on the topic of the potential effect of high ambient temperatures and in particular heat waves on human health. Studies were carried out by using and comparing different thermal/temperature based health-impact indicators, such as the simple use of air temperature variables (treating weather as univariate phenomenon) or by using alternative temperature metrics which condense all the extra meteorological effects (i.e. air humidity, wind speed and solar radiation) into a single number, which indicates an apparent/perceived temperature. This latter is obtained by more or less complex thermal indices, in this case treating the weather as bivariate or multivariate phenomenon by means of a simple biometeorological indices, such as the heat index, or more complex thermophysiological models based on the human energy balance (i.e. the newly developed Universal Thermal Climate Index, UTCI). Furthermore, also other approaches, such as the synoptic climatological classification, described as either “weather types” (synoptic events categorized by pressure patterns and wind fields) or “air masses” (based on a wider variety of ground weather elements) have been applied. Different health outcome indicators were investigated, with particular attention to the effect on human mortality and hospitalizations of vulnerable groups (i.e people aged over 75 years old).
The university team members work together aiming at several goals: to promote, coordinate, organize and support the multidisciplinary research activities in the field of Bioclimatology and Biometeorology; to provide support activities related to educational activities in Bioclimatology and Biometeorology; to promote collaborations with other universities and scientific groups operating both nationally and internationally; to promote every kind of initiative for giving importance to research and culture in the field of Bioclimatology; to provide expertise to scientific, technical, cultural territory, setting up a documentation center, including a database of skills; to organize training workshops, university masters courses and e-learning; to collaborate with schools of excellence aiming at the preparation of special professionals.
The activity is mainly directed on the following researches:
- Sensitivity analysis of biometeorological models
- Characterization and classification of climatic and bioclimatic regions
- Effects of weather on the cardiovascular and respiratory diseases
- Effects of weather and climate on allergic diseases. Pollen and spore forecast
- Effects of weather on children's behavior
- Impacts of extreme events (heat waves, cold waves, etc.) on the population and on certain categories of persons (the elderly, children, workers, migrants, tourists, ...)
- Study of the thermal insulation characteristics of the fabrics to improve the thermal comfort conditions in different environmental conditions
- Effects of urban climate on human health: analysis of thermal conditions in the urban environment and the role of vegetation in mitigating heat island
- Vulnerability to weather-climatic conditions