Human Comfort and the microclimatic drivers across different land use types in Port Harcourt Metropolis, Nigeria
The study identified spatially differentiated thermal human comfort conditions based on heat stress and microclimate data for specific urban built-up land use classes; and examined the influence of certain microclimatic elements on the observed human comfort levels within the coastal milieu of Port Harcourt metropolis. Five days weather (wind speed, air temperature and relative humidity) and human comfort (heat stress) data were obtained for each land use using the Kestrel 4500 weather tracker. In addition, human comfort based on Heat Index (HI) computed using the American Weather Service (AWS) heat index calculator was obtained to determine the associated heat related hazard across the land use types. Data was subjected to descriptive and inferential statistical analysis. Commercial areas had highest mean heat stress (poor human comfort), followed by high density residential areas. A major attribute is the high concentration of population and human activity capable of generating enormous heat. Since relative humidity and air temperature are major determinants of heat stress, the heat Index (HI) obtained using these parameters confirmed that commercial and high density residential areas were more uncomfortable, having higher heat stress and heat index. Port Harcourt may witness continuous increase in heat stress with climate change projections associated with high temperature and relative humidity. Regression Analysis revealed that there is a significant association between microclimate and human comfort, with temperature being a major determinant, followed by relative humidity. Therefore policies that encourage the provision of more vegetation cover should be adopted to curb the effect of urban heat island and heat related diseases on the environment and health of the residents.
Key words: Heat stress, human comfort, microclimate, land use, urban, vegetation