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  • When the UK struggles through a heatwave, temperatures over there can get as high as

  • the mid-30s.

  • For someone like me, who deals with this weather for winter, that doesn't sound like much.

  • So do the Brits just need totoughen up”?

  • I mean, we've got roads melting here in our summers.

  • We're all used to different climates, yes, but there's more to it than that.

  • For starters, a heatwave is relative - basically, it's different depending on where you are.

  • The World Meteorological Organisation loosely defines it asmore than 5 consecutive days

  • of temperatures exceeding the average max by 5 degrees celsius”.

  • So in the UK, it averages about 20C over the summer months, whereas in Australia it averages

  • about 30C.

  • This means it doesn't take as high a temperature to trigger a heatwave in the UK.

  • If we look at other cities, in Toronto their summers are about 25C.

  • A heatwave there is three consecutive days over 32C.

  • And in India, with temperatures around 35C, they wouldn't call a heatwave unless the

  • air temperature reached at least 40C in plains regions.

  • So in Australia, and other countries with a high summer temperatures, the buildings

  • are built to keep as cool as possible.

  • The concept is nothing new.

  • It's called vernacular architecture, where buildings are designed based on local needs,

  • materials and traditions.

  • Take a look at this house.

  • This is a Queenslander, found in, well, Queensland.

  • They're built out of timber and on stumpsthe space underneath the house helps cool

  • the building through ventilation.

  • There's always a wide veranda for shading and protection from heavy rains, and a corrugated

  • iron roof which is lightweight and durable.

  • And there's plenty more examples of this style of building for your environment from

  • around the world.

  • This is a house from the Asir province of Saudi Arabia, where the temperature is moderate

  • but it rains often.

  • The protruding slates cascade rain away from the clay walls.

  • In the Philippines, bahay kubo huts are built with bamboo, with sufficient ventilation for

  • the hot summer, and raised above the ground to protect against torrential flooding.

  • The igloos of the inuits, rondavels in Africa, and gers in Mongoliayou get the idea.

  • And along with this, there's plenty of other architectural choices made to respond to the environment.

  • Our public spaces include plenty of shaded areas and sufficient ventilation.

  • Not to mention, the majority of the population, about 85%, lives within 50km of the coastline,

  • where all the major cities have developed.

  • Meaning even in summer, we'd get a nice seabreeze to help cool down the hot air temperature.

  • But over on the other side of the world, it's not that easy.

  • Did you notice something he didn't mention?

  • Air-conditioning is not really a thing in the UK.

  • Offices and shopping centres are more likely to have them, but it's not a given

  • the way it'd be in Australia and other countries in hotter climates.

  • It's just not needed.

  • That's becauselike how Australian houses are built to keep coolin the UK and other

  • colder climates, everything is designed to keep the heat in.

  • There aren't many overhanging eaves or awnings, or shaded outdoor areas, and most windows

  • are double-glazed so that the temperature inside buildings stays as warm as possible

  • during cold winters.

  • Public transport is another big onethe Tube is notorious for its lack of ventilation,

  • which means the heat generated from the trains can't escape the underground system very easily.

  • This is fine for an English summer most of the time, but as soon as the mercury starts

  • rising, it becomes a bit unbearable.

  • Rest assured, air con is coming to the Central Linebut in 2030.

  • So only a few years to go then.

  • This is all well and good for part of the year, but on the flipside, when it gets cold

  • in Australia, you really feel it.

  • Yes, even if you're from a place where sub-zero temperatures is normal.

  • Because the houses are designed to perform well in summer, buildings don't really retain

  • much heat.

  • Even though the winter months aren't as cold, with averages of about 5 degrees,

  • most houses aren't properly insulated.

  • The large eaves that give you welcome shade in the summer, stops that same sunshine from

  • entering in the winter.

  • And of course, the British homes which heat up during summer stay nice and warm during

  • the cold winter months.

  • So the actual infrastructure of a city can help the temperature feel hotter or cooler

  • than it is, but depending on how long we've lived in a certain city, our physiology can

  • also affect the way we react to certain temperatures.

  • It's called acclimatisation, and it's our body's long-term response to extreme temperatures.

  • So it's not just about sweating when it's hotit's how our bodies decide when

  • we sweat, how much we sweat, our tendency to sweat, and even the amount of salt in our sweat.

  • It only takes about 2 weeks for a healthy body to acclimatise, depending on different factors.

  • And it's faster to adapt to heat than to cold.

  • If you're used to a certain range of temperatures, anything outside of that range would feel

  • uncomfortable to you.

  • So both acclimatisation and our city's infrastructure affects the way we feel temperature.

  • So while we might think we're good at dealing with certain extremes, we might be proven

  • otherwise.

  • So next time you see this or this, maybe don't be too quick to judge.

  • I've put some links below to some sites which will help you build or improve your

  • home to be more environmentally sustainable and energy efficient.

  • And on the topic of interesting architecture,

  • I wanted to leave you all with this weird story I found while researching -

  • this is a car which was melted due to the concave windows of this building in London.

When the UK struggles through a heatwave, temperatures over there can get as high as

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Why 25 degrees really is hot in the UK | Did You Know?

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    00348 posted on 2019/07/23
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