Study Suggests Urban Waste Heat May Have Big Effect up to 1,000 Miles Away
January 28, 2013 12:54 PM
comment(s) - last by
Despite having little impact on global mean temperatures, waste heat may alter weather significantly
A diverse team of researchers from
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Florida State University
(FSU); and the
National Center for Atmospheric Research
(NCAR) have teamed up to examine the long term effects of
on local surroundings.
I. Waste Heat Shifts Temperature Balance
Urban heat originates from a variety of sources -- buildings with central heating, power plants, cars, and more. Human machines dump waste heat into the environment on a large scale locally. But globally waste heat is only estimated to account for around 0.3 percent of the total heat transported across higher latitudes by atmospheric or oceanic circulation, bumping temperatures by a mere 0.01 degrees C (about 0.02 degrees F).
"urban heat island" effect
-- local warming from waste heat -- is
. But the research team suspected that waste heat might have longer-range effects too, effects that might be masked by the global trend. They dug into the issue and developed models that suggest that waste may indeed have longer-range impact, in addition to the urban heat island effect.
The new, more detailed smaller-scale models show that waste heat from cities may heat up northern regions of North America and Asia by as much as 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter. The heating effects can be felt up to 1,000 miles away from their source, the simulations showed. At the same time, the North American/Asian heating is coupled with a 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) cooling effect in Europe, which is forcing cooler winters.
Waste heat is warming North America and Asia's north, while cooling the European north.
[Image Source: Ecofriend]
comments, "The burning of fossil fuel not only emits greenhouse gases but also directly affects temperatures because of heat that escapes from sources like buildings and cars. Although much of this waste heat is concentrated in large cities, it can change atmospheric patterns in a way that raises or lowers temperatures across considerable distances."
II. What Can be Done?
Humans by and large produce much less waste heat than nature (respiration itself, the process by which living organisms harvest energetic chemicals to drive the processes of life, puts off a fair deal of waste heat). But many human cities happen to be located directly under jet stream troughs, which causes the localized impact to be amplified.
Globally in 2006 energy consumption globally was estimated to have occurred at an average of 16 terawatts (TW). The 86 largest metropolitan areas in the Northern Hemisphere are estimated to have consumed 6.7 TW of that total.
U.S. urban centers often sit under jet stream troughs. [Image Source: Blue Moon/Panoramio]
The study is arguably less about prevention, and more about understanding and coping with mankind's localized impact on weather/climate. After all, you can't reasonably ask people to turn off the heat in the winter or stop driving (even EVs put off waste heat).
But perhaps future urban expansion can be guided by models that place new construction in areas that suck less of the waste heat into the jet stream or alternatively suck up more in regions that are currently being cooled.
Additionally materials may be able to
recapture some waste heat
, decreasing the global output, while at the same time lowering costs. (But such materials are still in their very nascent stages.)
The study was
in the peer-reviewed journal
Nature Climate Change
UCAR [press release]
Nature Climate Change [abstract]
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: I suggested this
1/28/2013 2:21:26 PM
To be fair, what the article is stating has been "suspected", but with very little proof. No one is really quite sure how localally sustained temperature variations affects the jet streams, and the greater impact those changes has on the climate. It takes a LOT of processing power to get an answer, and when one thousandth of a decimal point can lead weather systems to take a totally different course (see: Hurricane Prediction), its very hard to come to any real conclusions without significant amounts of time studying the problem.
RE: I suggested this
1/28/2013 4:15:45 PM
Sure but i would sooner believe this type of warming affecting localized weather patterns (rather than climate) mostly likely being more pronounced during solar maxims like we are experiencing now. All i am saying is this is an interesting study with something that can be studied locally compared to global climate change which amounts to speculation. Might help partly explain the heat domes over the midwest we experienced last summer.
RE: I suggested this
1/28/2013 8:17:00 PM
If you compare the number of large cities in the northern hemisphere to the number in the southern hemisphere, there are a lot more in the north. Also don't the warming trends tend to be showing more warming in the north than in the south? Would that not suggest that possibly urban warming is influencing global warming or the appearance of global warming?
"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
New Alloy Creates Electricity from Waste Heat
June 27, 2011, 1:43 PM
New Material Can Convert 14 Percent of Waste Heat to Electricity
January 19, 2011, 7:53 PM
NOAA: Don't Believe Skeptics, Global Warming is "Undeniable"
August 5, 2010, 12:16 PM
Phil Jones Fights Accusations of Global Warming Research Wrongdoing
February 16, 2010, 9:36 AM
Bob Lutz, Wanxiang Group Offer $20 Million for Fisker Automotive
May 24, 2013, 10:45 AM
Chevrolet Prices Spark EV at $27,495 Before $7,500 Tax Credit
May 23, 2013, 9:08 AM
Ford Expects Four-Cylinder Engines to Significantly Increase in Popularity
May 21, 2013, 8:56 AM
Toyota Wants to Increase Lithium-Ion Battery Production to 20,000/Year
May 20, 2013, 9:30 PM
Mercedes Aims for 45 MPG Highway on New E250 Bluetec 4Matic Diesel Sedan
May 20, 2013, 8:20 AM
Tesla to Issue More Stock, Pay Off Energy Loans with Proceeds
May 16, 2013, 1:58 PM
Most Popular Articles
High School Student Creates Storage Device that Can Charge in 20 Seconds
May 20, 2013, 6:51 AM
Apples Tries to Use Decade-Old Patents to Ban Samsung Galaxy S IV
May 22, 2013, 3:00 PM
NASA Awards $125,000 Grant for 3D Printed Food on Long-Term Space Travels
May 21, 2013, 1:32 PM
Microsoft Announces Voice-Controlled "Xbox One"
May 21, 2013, 12:55 AM
Cure For Baldness Could Be on Store Shelves within Two Years
May 22, 2013, 8:29 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Lumosity: Does it Work?
May 22, 2013, 8:20 PM
Quick Note: Sony "Teases" PS4 Ahead of Xbox Reveal in New Video
May 20, 2013, 12:33 PM
Nokia Introduces Instagram-Like App of Its Own to Help Lumia Sales
May 20, 2013, 7:10 AM
Parents of Pre-Teen Drivers Commonly Practice Distracted Driving Says Study
May 9, 2013, 7:16 AM
Apple's iOS 7 Running Into Internal Delays Due to Massive Overhaul
May 1, 2013, 4:26 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2013 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information