Air temperature and humidity both affect the human comfort and health in warm and humid climates. An effective way to measure the overall effect of temperature and humidity on human comfort (or discomfort) is using the term referred as Heat Index (HI). The HI is a measure of how people “feel” when exposed to warm and humid environments, making it an effective variable to explain the effects of heat in people, to alert of heat advisories, and to reform public health policies. Evidently, heat index is a changing variable with geography and with climate seasons and change. This research aims to investigate the spatial and temporal trends of Heat Index and energy per capita (EPC) in the Continental US (CONUS) and the Meso-America (the Caribbean, and Northern Regions of South America).
In order to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution and trends of heat index and EPC in different regions of the CONUS and the Meso-America, hourly air temperature and relative humidity datasets were collected from two sources; The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP) North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) and weather stations for the period of thirty years: 1990 to 2019. The Algorithm used in our study to determine the HI is similar to the one used by the National Weather Service (NWS) measuring air temperature in degrees Fahrenheit (T) and relative humidity in percent (RH). Our analysis of the HI and EPC climatology for the summer season for Southeast US and the Meso-America exhibits the largest values in Southeast US, followed by the Greater Antilles, and then the Lesser Antilles. HI is used herein to quantify the impacts of these warming trends on EPC. Results of the analysis depict a Southern Greater Antilles with a positive EPC rate of 2 kWh per year for summer season. These spatial trends using NARR data were found to correlate very well with selected weather stations and were also determined to be statistically significant. The state level trends of electricity consumption per person per year (Figure 5.) suggests, in general, a correlation between trends on total energy consumption per capita and increasing maximum heat index. Therefore, increased energy production and improved energy infrastructure will be required to maintain ideal indoor building conditions as consequence of a warmer climate.