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Concept: Humidity


The evolutionary reasons for variation in nose shape across human populations have been subject to continuing debate. An import function of the nose and nasal cavity is to condition inspired air before it reaches the lower respiratory tract. For this reason, it is thought the observed differences in nose shape among populations are not simply the result of genetic drift, but may be adaptations to climate. To address the question of whether local adaptation to climate is responsible for nose shape divergence across populations, we use Qst-Fst comparisons to show that nares width and alar base width are more differentiated across populations than expected under genetic drift alone. To test whether this differentiation is due to climate adaptation, we compared the spatial distribution of these variables with the global distribution of temperature, absolute humidity, and relative humidity. We find that width of the nares is correlated with temperature and absolute humidity, but not with relative humidity. We conclude that some aspects of nose shape may indeed have been driven by local adaptation to climate. However, we think that this is a simplified explanation of a very complex evolutionary history, which possibly also involved other non-neutral forces such as sexual selection.

Concepts: Natural selection, Precipitation, Respiratory system, Humidity, Relative humidity, Population genetics, Nose, Charles Darwin


The role of relative humidity in the aerosol transmission of influenza was examined in a simulated examination room containing coughing and breathing manikins.

Concepts: Influenza, Humidity, Relative humidity, Psychrometrics, Hygrometer


Sulfate aerosols exert profound impacts on human and ecosystem health, weather, and climate, but their formation mechanism remains uncertain. Atmospheric models consistently underpredict sulfate levels under diverse environmental conditions. From atmospheric measurements in two Chinese megacities and complementary laboratory experiments, we show that the aqueous oxidation of SO2 by NO2 is key to efficient sulfate formation but is only feasible under two atmospheric conditions: on fine aerosols with high relative humidity and NH3 neutralization or under cloud conditions. Under polluted environments, this SO2 oxidation process leads to large sulfate production rates and promotes formation of nitrate and organic matter on aqueous particles, exacerbating severe haze development. Effective haze mitigation is achievable by intervening in the sulfate formation process with enforced NH3 and NO2 control measures. In addition to explaining the polluted episodes currently occurring in China and during the 1952 London Fog, this sulfate production mechanism is widespread, and our results suggest a way to tackle this growing problem in China and much of the developing world.

Concepts: Precipitation, Climate, Humidity, Relative humidity, Particulate, Smog, Psychrometrics, Fog


Several studies have analyzed the effects of weather on factors associated with weight loss. In this study, we directly analyzed the effect of weather on intentional weight loss using global-scale data provided by smartphone applications. Through Weather Underground API and the Noom Coach application, we extracted information on weather and body weight for each user located in each of several geographic areas on all login days. We identified meteorological information (pressure, precipitation, wind speed, dew point, and temperature) and self-monitored body weight data simultaneously. A linear mixed-effects model was performed analyzing 3274 subjects. Subjects in North America had higher initial BMIs than those of subjects in Eastern Asia. During the study period, most subjects who used the smartphone application experienced weight loss in a significant way (80.39%, p-value < 0.001). Subjects who infrequently recorded information about dinner had smaller variations than those of other subjects (βfreq.users dinner*time = 0.007, p-value < 0.001). Colder temperature, lower dew point, and higher values for wind speed and precipitation were significantly associated with weight loss. In conclusion, we found a direct and independent impact of meteorological conditions on intentional weight loss efforts on a global scale (not only on a local level).

Concepts: Climate, Weather, Humidity, Meteorology, North America, Wind, Monsoon, Fog


Insect hygroreceptors associate as antagonistic pairs of a moist cell and a dry cell together with a cold cell in small cuticular sensilla on the antennae. The mechanisms by which the atmospheric humidity stimulates the hygroreceptive cells remain elusive. Three models for humidity transduction have been proposed in which hygroreceptors operate either as mechanical hygrometers, evaporation detectors or psychrometers. Mechanical hygrometers are assumed to respond to the relative humidity, evaporation detectors to the saturation deficit and psychrometers to the temperature depression (the difference between wet-bulb and dry-bulb temperatures). The models refer to different ways of expressing humidity. This also means, however, that at different temperatures these different types of hygroreceptors indicate very different humidity conditions. The present study tested the adequacy of the three models on the cockroach’s moist and dry cells by determining whether the specific predictions about the temperature-dependence of the humidity responses are indeed observed. While in previous studies stimulation consisted of rapid step-like humidity changes, here we changed humidity slowly and continuously up and down in a sinusoidal fashion. The low rates of change made it possible to measure instantaneous humidity values based on UV-absorption and to assign these values to the hygroreceptive sensillum. The moist cell fitted neither the mechanical hygrometer nor the evaporation detector model: the temperature dependence of its humidity responses could not be attributed to relative humidity or to saturation deficit, respectively. The psychrometer model, however, was verified by the close relationships of the moist cell’s response with the wet-bulb temperature and the dry cell’s response with the dry-bulb temperature. Thus, the hygroreceptors respond to evaporation and the resulting cooling due to the wetness or dryness of the air. The drier the ambient air (absolutely) and the higher the temperature, the greater the evaporative temperature depression and the power to desiccate.

Concepts: Temperature, Humidity, Relative humidity, Psychrometrics, Dew point, Hygrometer, Atmospheric thermodynamics, Dry-bulb temperature


BACKGROUND: Hypohydration and hyperthermia are factors that may contribute to fatigue and impairment of endurance performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of combining glycerol hyperhydration and an established precooling technique on cycling time trial performance in hot environmental conditions. METHODS: Twelve well-trained male cyclists performed three 46.4-km laboratory-based cycling trials that included two climbs, under hot and humid environmental conditions (33.3 +/- 1.1[degree sign]C; 50 +/- 6% r.h.). Subjects were required to hyperhydrate with 25 body mass (BM) of a 4[degree sign]C beverage containing 6% carbohydrate (CON) 2.5 h prior to the time trial. On two occasions, subjects were also exposed to an established precooling technique (PC) 60 min prior to the time trial, involving 14 BM ice slurry ingestion and applied iced towels over 30 min. During one PC trial, 1.2 BM glycerol was added to the hyperhydration beverage in a double-blind fashion (PC+G). Statistics used in this study involve the combination of traditional probability statistics and a magnitude-based inference approach. RESULTS: Hyperhydration resulted in large reductions (-0.6 to -0.7[degree sign]C) in rectal temperature. The addition of glycerol to this solution also lowered urine output (330 ml, 10%). Precooling induced further small (-0.3[degree sign]C) to moderate (-0.4[degree sign]C) reductions in rectal temperature with PC and PC+G treatments, respectively, when compared with CON (0.0[degree sign]C, P<0.05). Overall, PC+G failed to achieve a clear change in cycling performance over CON, but PC showed a possible 2% (30 s, P=0.02) improvement in performance time on climb 2 compared to CON. This improvement was attributed to subjects' lower perception of effort reported over the first 10 km of the trial, despite no clear performance change during this time. No differences were detected in any other physiological measurements throughout the time trial. CONCLUSIONS: Despite increasing fluid intake and reducing core temperature, performance and thermoregulatory benefits of a hyperhydration strategy with and without the addition of glycerol, plus practical precooling, were not superior to hyperhydration alone. Further research is warranted to further refine preparation strategies for athletes competing in thermally stressful events to optimize health and maximize performance outcomes.

Concepts: Physiology, Thermoregulation, Temperature, Hyperthermia, Humidity, The Trial, Normal human body temperature, Individual time trial


The salient feature of liquid crystal elastomers and networks is strong coupling between orientational order and mechanical strain. Orientational order can be changed by a wide variety of stimuli, including the presence of moisture. Changes in the orientation of constituents give rise to stresses and strains, which result in changes in sample shape. We have utilized this effect to build soft cellulose-based motor driven by humidity. The motor consists of a circular loop of cellulose film, which passes over two wheels. When humid air is present near one of the wheels on one side of the film, with drier air elsewhere, rotation of the wheels results. As the wheels rotate, the humid film dries. The motor runs so long as the difference in humidity is maintained. Our cellulose liquid crystal motor thus extracts mechanical work from a difference in humidity.

Concepts: Crystal, Soft matter, Orientation, Humidity, Liquid crystal, Rigid body, Evaporation, Building insulation


In 2015, more than 200,000 saiga antelopes died in 3 weeks in central Kazakhstan. The proximate cause of death is confirmed as hemorrhagic septicemia caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida type B, based on multiple strands of evidence. Statistical modeling suggests that there was unusually high relative humidity and temperature in the days leading up to the mortality event; temperature and humidity anomalies were also observed in two previous similar events in the same region. The modeled influence of environmental covariates is consistent with known drivers of hemorrhagic septicemia. Given the saiga population’s vulnerability to mass mortality and the likely exacerbation of climate-related and environmental stressors in the future, management of risks to population viability such as poaching and viral livestock disease is urgently needed, as well as robust ongoing veterinary surveillance. A multidisciplinary approach is needed to research mass mortality events under rapid environmental change.

Concepts: Death, Demography, Future, Physical quantities, Humidity, Relative humidity, Psychrometrics, Pasteurella multocida


To evaluate the performance of vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP) for the bio-decontamination of the high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter unit.

Concepts: Oxygen, Water, Hydrogen peroxide, Humidity, Respirator, Air purifier, Vaporized hydrogen peroxide, HEPA


Sensory effects in eyes and airways are common symptoms reported by aircraft crew and office workers. Neurological symptoms, such as headache, have also been reported. To assess the commonality and differences in exposures and health symptoms, a literature search of aircraft cabin and office air concentrations of non-reactive volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ozone-initiated terpene reaction products were compiled and assessed. Data for tricresyl phosphates, in particular tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate (ToCP), were also compiled, as well as information on other risk factors such as low relative humidity. A conservative health risk assessment for eye, airway and neurological effects was undertaken based on a “worst-case scenario” which assumed a simultaneous constant exposure for 8h to identified maximum concentrations in aircraft and offices. This used guidelines and reference values for sensory irritation for eyes and upper airways and airflow limitation; a tolerable daily intake value was used for ToCP. The assessment involved the use of hazard quotients or indexes, defined as the summed ratio(s) (%) of compound concentration(s) divided by their guideline value(s). The concentration data suggest that, under the assumption of a conservative “worst-case scenario”, aircraft air and office concentrations of the compounds in question are not likely to be associated with sensory symptoms in eyes and airways. This is supported by the fact that maximum concentrations are, in general, associated with infrequent incidents and brief exposures. Sensory symptoms, in particular in eyes, appear to be exacerbated by environmental and occupational conditions that differ in aircraft and offices, e.g., ozone incidents, low relative humidity, low cabin pressure, and visual display unit work. The data do not support airflow limitation effects. For ToCP, in view of the conservative approach adopted here and the rareness of reported incidents, the health risk of exposure to this compound in aircraft is considered negligible.

Concepts: Evaluation, Risk, Assessment, Humidity, Relative humidity, Volatile organic compound, Tricresyl phosphate, Cabin pressurization