The present work was undertaken to determine the effect of atmospheric pressure [ranging from a high altitude of 4,300 m above sea level or 0.6 atmospheres absolute (ATA) to depths of 10 m deep or 2 ATA] on the critical water temperature (Tcw), defined as the lowest water temperature a subject can tolerate at rest for 2 h without shivering, of the unprotected subject during water immersion. Nine healthy males wearing only shorts were subjected to immersion to the neck in water at 0.6, 1, and 2 ATA while resting for 2 h. Continuous measurements included esophageal (Tes) and skin (Tsk) temperatures, direct heat loss from the skin (Htissue), and insulation of the tissue (Itissue). The Tcw was significantly higher at 0.6 ATA than 1 and 2 ATA: however, Tcw at 1 ATA was identical to that at 2 ATA. The metabolic heat production remained unchanged among the pressures. During the 2-h immersion in Tcw, Tes was identical among all atmospheric pressures: however, Tsk was significantly higher (P less than 0.05) at 0.6 ATA and was identical between 1 and 2 ATA. The overall mean Itissue was near maximal during immersion in Tcw in each pressure, and no difference was detected among the pressures. However, Itissue at the acral extremities (arm, hand, and foot) decreased significantly at 0.6 ATA, and subsequently heat loss from these parts was increased, which elevated an extremity-to-trunk heat loss ratio to 1.4 at 0.6 ATA from 1.1 at 1 and 2 ATA.
- Copyright © 1988 the American Physiological Society