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Despite having little impact on global mean temperatures, waste heat may alter weather significantly

A diverse team of researchers from Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California, San Diego (UCSD); Florida State University (FSU); and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) have teamed up to examine the long term effects of waste heat 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).

The "urban heat island" effect -- local warming from waste heat -- is well known.  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
Waste heat is warming North America and Asia's north, while cooling the European north.
[Image Source: Ecofriend]

NCAR researcher Aixie Hu 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.

Urban heat map
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 published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change.

Sources: UCAR [press release], Nature Climate Change [abstract]



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RE: I suggested this
By Reclaimer77 on 1/28/2013 3:33:33 PM , Rating: -1
Yes and the waste heat from billions of acres of forests being burned yearly from natural fires if mankind wasn't here wouldn't have an affect either.

Ammohunt as soon as you reduce your carbon and heat footprint to zero (aka DIE) we'll be right behind you.

Moron.


RE: I suggested this
By Ammohunt on 1/28/2013 4:03:14 PM , Rating: 1
Its the net effect that scales exponentially (i know big word Google it) with population growth. The focus has been on Greenhouse gases(which has limited heat trapping potential) only and not direct heat injection into the atmosphere. Its common knowledge that temperatures in cities are typically higher that surrounding areas due to the fact listed above.

So to sooth your limited intellect and understanding of the world no one is saying this is bringing on the end of the world man created climate change garbage most environmentalists cling to but just a note that what i and others evidentially surmised that these affects can contribute to localized warming. Next time try and stay out of conversations associated with ideas that you can't seem to comprehend.



RE: I suggested this
By Reclaimer77 on 1/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: I suggested this
By Reclaimer77 on 1/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: I suggested this
By Etsp on 1/28/2013 4:22:49 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Please stop trying to be an intellectual, you're not very good at it. News flash, but extremely smart people don't need to be condescending to back it up.


RE: I suggested this
By Reclaimer77 on 1/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: I suggested this
By ebakke on 1/28/2013 4:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you were being condescending. (I'm not saying he didn't deserve it. And I'm most certainly not saying I didn't find it amusing.)


RE: I suggested this
By Reclaimer77 on 1/28/2013 4:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
lol understood :)


RE: I suggested this
By Ammohunt on 1/28/2013 4:38:10 PM , Rating: 1
Never said who i suggested it to now did i? Doesn't really matter does it? but you bite on all the unimportant details because you are the lonely angry, anonymous, pretend conservative poster cliché who exists only to take away and not add you are pathetic.

quote:
If you look at this objectively, you will realize you aren't saying anything here of merit. None.


So your are saying i posted one thing that equals 99% of your posts here? ok you got me.

quote:
So you surmised that pumping heat into the air can contribute to localized warming? Amazing!! Can I ask how you figured this out? Is there a scientific journal somewhere where you published these findings?


Scientists say it! so it must be so! Go tell it on the mountain! Non-scientist cannot hypothesize or discuss topics that affect them directly Hell no! there is science or religion nothing else!

Think Mcfly!


RE: I suggested this
By ebakke on 1/28/2013 4:40:24 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Scientists say it! so it must be so! Go tell it on the mountain! Non-scientist cannot hypothesize or discuss topics that affect them directly Hell no! there is science or religion nothing else!

Think Mcfly!
Can someone who understood Ammo's ramblings here, translate for the rest of us? Did he not pick up on Reclaimer's sarcasm? Was he trying to make some poorly-delivered joke? When did religion enter this cat fight?

I don't get it.


RE: I suggested this
By Reclaimer77 on 1/28/13, Rating: -1
RE: I suggested this
By Ammohunt on 1/28/2013 4:54:16 PM , Rating: 2
Don't post here often do you? there was sarcasm?


RE: I suggested this
By ebakke on 1/28/2013 5:18:09 PM , Rating: 2
There was sarcasm? I should be asking that question.

Don't get all huffy about this - but is English your first language?


RE: I suggested this
By Ammohunt on 1/28/2013 5:30:13 PM , Rating: 2
Not huffy at all; sarcasm i can appreciate go die moron i don't. All i see is epeen waving and posturing but i digress. On this site the fall back when someone doesn't have an original thought(even if it considered wrong) is to fall back to what the "Scientists" dictate rather then debate a point..the deference to authority argument or i breaks down into religion vs the universe.


RE: I suggested this
By Paj on 1/29/2013 8:09:58 AM , Rating: 2
Splitting hairs here, but if you want to improve your debating performances, I suggest thinking before you type, re-reading before you hit post, then developing some skills in punctuation. Then sentences like this could actually impart some meaning:

quote:
Not huffy at all; sarcasm i can appreciate go die moron i don't


Are you saying you don't die, or you don't appreciate sarcasm (which seems to be a direct refutation of your second point)? Neither makes sense.


RE: I suggested this
By Ammohunt on 1/28/2013 5:09:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Oh yes you are so smart. Love the opening, "I suggested this". Man Ammo, if only we had all listened to you years ago!


After looking at this again i can see how "I suggested this" was interpreted in an unintended way like i had some kind of secret knowledge which i don't. "I have discussed this with others" would have been more appropriate.

Never the less if you were interested in debate you would have responded a little differently. Fact is the content of your original response with out the anonymity of the internet draws a beat down pretty much anywhere. Civil discourse look it up.


RE: I suggested this
By Paj on 1/29/2013 8:04:54 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
News flash, but extremely smart people don't need to be condescending to back it up.


Guess that classifies you pretty accurately then


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