Cities affect temperatures for thousands of miles

Jan 27, 2013
This composite image shows a global view of Earth at night, compiled from over 400 satellite images. New research shows that major cities, which generally correspond with the nighttime lights in this image, can have a far-reaching impact on temperatures. Credit: NASA and NOAA

Even if you live more than 1,000 miles from the nearest large city, it could be affecting your weather. In a new study that shows the extent to which human activities are influencing the atmosphere, scientists have concluded that the heat generated by everyday activities in metropolitan areas alters the character of the jet stream and other major atmospheric systems. This affects temperatures across thousands of miles, significantly warming some areas and cooling others, according to the study in Nature Climate Change.

The extra "" generated from buildings, cars, and other sources in major Northern Hemisphere urban areas causes winter warming across large areas of northern North American and northern Asia. Temperatures in some remote areas increase by as much as 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the research by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; Florida State University; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

At the same time, the changes to caused by the waste heat cool areas of Europe by as much as 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F), with much of the temperature decrease occurring in the fall.

The net effect on global mean temperatures is nearly negligible—an average increase worldwide of just 0.01 degrees C (about 0.02 degrees F). This is because the total human-produced waste heat is only about 0.3 percent of the heat transported across by atmospheric and oceanic circulations.

However, the noticeable impact on regional temperatures may explain why some regions are experiencing more winter warming than projected by climate computer models, the researchers conclude. They suggest that models be adjusted to take the influence of waste heat into account.

"The burning of fossil fuel not only emits but also directly affects temperatures because of heat that escapes from sources like buildings and cars," says NCAR scientist Aixue Hu, a co-author of the study. "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."

The researchers stressed that the effect of waste heat is distinct from the so-called urban heat island effect. Such islands are mainly a function of the heat collected and re-radiated by pavement, buildings, and other urban features, whereas the new study examines the heat produced directly through transportation, heating and cooling units, and other activities.

The study, " and the unexplained winter warming over northern Asia and North America" appears this Sunday. It was funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor, as well as the Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hu, along with lead author Guang Zhang of Scripps and Ming Cai of Florida State University, analyzed the energy consumption – from heating buildings to powering vehicles – that generates waste heat release. The world's total energy consumption in 2006 was equivalent to a constant-use rate of 16 terawatts (one terawatt, or TW, equals 1 trillion watts). Of that, an average rate of 6.7 TW was consumed in 86 metropolitan areas in the Northern Hemisphere.

Using a of the atmosphere, the authors found that the influence of this waste heat can widen the jet stream.

"What we found is that energy use from multiple urban areas collectively can warm the atmosphere remotely, thousands of miles away from the energy consumption regions," Zhang says. "This is accomplished through atmospheric circulation change."

The release of waste heat is different from energy that is naturally distributed in the atmosphere, the researchers noted. The largest source of heat, solar energy, warms Earth's surface and atmospheric circulations redistribute that energy from one region to another. Human energy consumption distributes energy that had lain dormant and sequestered for millions of years, mostly in the form of oil or coal.

Though the amount of human-generated energy is a small portion of that transported by nature, it is highly concentrated in urban areas. In the , many of those lie directly under major atmospheric troughs and jet streams.

"The world's most populated and energy-intensive metropolitan areas are along the east and west coasts of the North American and Eurasian continents, underneath the most prominent atmospheric circulation troughs and ridges," Cai says. "The release of this concentrated waste energy causes the noticeable interruption to the normal atmospheric circulation systems above, leading to remote surface temperature changes far away from the regions where waste heat is generated."

Explore further: New satellite maps out Napa Valley earthquake

More information: Energy consumption and the unexplained winter warming over northern Asia and North America, by Ghang J. Zhang, Ming Cai, and Aixue Hu, Nature Climate Change, Jan. 27, 2013. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1803

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User comments : 53

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philw1776
2.7 / 5 (16) Jan 27, 2013
Glad to see some further study of this seemingly obvious effect of urban heat islands. What was not obvious to me is the influence far from the source, the jet stream etc. effects.
Lino235
1.5 / 5 (39) Jan 27, 2013
Vendicar:

You see, here's the source of so-called "global warming": urban heat traps. When will they re-program their computers to take this effect into account?

The Northern Hemisphere is freezing to death, and the climate alarmists tell us it's the "hottest year on record." Does stupidity know no limit?
jonnyboy
1.5 / 5 (24) Jan 27, 2013
keep hiding Scott.
axemaster
4.2 / 5 (26) Jan 27, 2013
You see, here's the source of so-called "global warming": urban heat traps. When will they re-program their computers to take this effect into account?

The effects are well known and have been taken into account since many years ago.

The Northern Hemisphere is freezing to death, and the climate alarmists tell us it's the "hottest year on record." Does stupidity know no limit?

Only yours, if you can't see the obvious fallacy of such a statement.
runrig
4.3 / 5 (16) Jan 27, 2013
You see, here's the source of so-called "global warming": urban heat traps. When will they re-program their computers to take this effect into account?


From the article "The net effect on global mean temperatures is nearly negligible—an average increase worldwide of just 0.01 degrees C (about 0.02 degrees F). This is because the total human-produced waste heat is only about 0.3 percent of the heat transported across higher latitudes by atmospheric and oceanic circulations." Plus they have.

The Northern Hemisphere is freezing to death, and the climate alarmists tell us it's the "hottest year on record." Does stupidity know no limit?

Two things: 1. Winter 2. Weather.
3 things: Apparently not in your case.

gregor1
1.6 / 5 (19) Jan 27, 2013

@ axemaster
"The effects are well known and have been taken into account since many years ago."

Not according to this recent study by NASA
"Taking the UHI effect has been the subject of much controversy over the years. This new study shows that it may have been significantly understated, at least in some areas."
http://notrickszo...
lewando
1 / 5 (18) Jan 27, 2013
Need to call BS on this. I live 50 miles from Philadelphia and my ass is still freezing.
VendicarE
3.8 / 5 (17) Jan 27, 2013
Linotype apparently didn't actually read the article he is responding to.

"The net effect on global mean temperatures is nearly negligible—an average increase worldwide of just 0.01 degrees C (about 0.02 degrees F)." - Article

"You see, here's the source of so-called "global warming": urban heat traps." - LinoType

His failure to read is commonly seen among Conservatives and other Global Warming Denialists.

Their inability to read and comprehend that which contradicts their Conservative Liedeology tells us much about why America is a failed nation.
VendicarE
3.3 / 5 (12) Jan 27, 2013
N.HEMI Land-Ocean Temperature Index in 0.01 degrees Celsius

Temperature anomalies for December
2012 36
2000 30
1995 31
1993 19
1992 17
1991 18
1990 33
1989 33
1988 33
1986 2
1985 11
1984 -46
1983 10
1982 32
1980 1
1978 2
1977 0
1976 -29
1975 -22
1974 -30
1973 -1
1972 -4
1971 -11
1970 -28

VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (13) Jan 27, 2013
Gregor tries to point to a 9 year old debunked paper and can't manage to post a link that works.

"Not according to this recent study by NASA" - GregorTard

Truly these Denialists are brain dead.
VendicarE
4.1 / 5 (17) Jan 27, 2013
In science, measurement has the final say as to what is true and what is fantasy.

"The Northern Hemisphere is freezing to death" - LinoType

Not according to measurements.

http://data.giss....v3/NH.Ts dSST.txt

LinoType is living in a land of massive self delusion.

His own "data" comes from him opening his freezer and being frightened by the idea that if he keeps it open he will cause a new ice age.
VendicarE
3.9 / 5 (15) Jan 27, 2013
Phil really intended to say "urban cold islands", but he had a brain fart.

"changes to atmospheric circulation caused by the waste heat cool areas of Europe by as much as 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F), with much of the temperature decrease occurring in the fall." - Article

"Glad to see some further study of this seemingly obvious effect of urban heat islands." - PhilW
FrankHerbert2
3.3 / 5 (24) Jan 27, 2013
It's cute how conservatives think the existence of winter disproves climate change.
MandoZink
4.5 / 5 (15) Jan 27, 2013
The Northern Hemisphere is freezing to death, and the climate alarmists tell us it's the "hottest year on record." Does stupidity know no limit?

Oh no! We're really freezing now!

We're in the grip of a cold snap that normally used to occur once or twice a winter. Now they are a rarity. And it doesn't even come close to the utterly frigid, lengthy spells that we used to get.
walter17
4.1 / 5 (9) Jan 27, 2013
it may be freezing now, but i bet it will be short and then it will warm up again!
VendicarE
4.3 / 5 (11) Jan 27, 2013
One evening last week it got down to -17'C (1.4'F) in my area. Cooooooooold for sure. But I remember temps would regularly go down to -5'F when I was younger.

I note that few record cold temps were set in North America last week. This contrasts with the tens of thousands of record warm temperatures that were set in the U.S. last winter.

Last week there was a nice high pressure area stalled off the U.S. West coast, pulling down cold Arctic Air. Such patterns are common during El-Nino years.

In any case, that blocking high is now gone and the result will be that the next few days highs will be 11'C around here rather than -11'C.

http://synoptic.e...anim.gif
FrankHerbert2
3.6 / 5 (14) Jan 27, 2013
I remember when temperatures would reach 0'F or lower multiple times in a winter. It's been years since I've seen subzero temperatures.
gregor1
1.5 / 5 (16) Jan 27, 2013

@ axemaster
"The effects are well known and have been taken into account since many years ago."

Not according to this
study by NASA
Heres the link again. It's dated 2010 so it is a little old
http://notrickszo...
hopper
1.8 / 5 (16) Jan 28, 2013
If extra heat is coming from heat islands or heat continents if you will--then wouldn't that shift the blame for global warming away from carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect?
VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (12) Jan 28, 2013
GregorTard's source says nothing about Global Warming.

This is fortunate for his denialist position since he can pretend that it has some effect.

But we all know the issue has been studied very well and for a very long time, and the effect of Urban Heat Islands on climate change estimates are a denilist myth.

This has been recently confirmed by the BEST analysis - in part paid for by the Koch Brothers.

Influence of Urban Heating on the Global Temperature Land Average
2 Using Rural Sites Identified from MODIS Classifications

http://berkeleyea...e-26.pdf

We observe the opposite of an urban heating effect over the period 1950 to 2010, with a slope of -0.10 +- 0.24 °C/100yr (2σ error) in the Berkeley Earth global land temperature average. The confidence interval is consistent with a zero urban heating effect, and at most a small urban heating effect (less than 0.14°C/100yr, with 95% confidence)

Poor GregorTard
VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (13) Jan 28, 2013
Some have speculated that the earth is warming because Lucifer is coming to claim dominion over the earth.

"If extra heat is coming from heat islands or heat continents " - Hopper

Many stupid people, say many stupid things.
hopper
1.9 / 5 (14) Jan 28, 2013
If there is no urban heating affect globally but the heat islands are generating heat that can be recorded going out to 1000 miles--then where are the sensors that measure global warming. Are they within a 1000 miles of the heat islands. If so, then their results are being contaminated by the island heat.
runrig
4.3 / 5 (11) Jan 28, 2013
... the heat islands are generating heat that can be recorded going out to 1000 miles--then where are the sensors that measure global warming. Are they within a 1000 miles of the heat islands. If so, then their results are being contaminated by the island heat.


The heating ( and cooling ) talked of is the result of "circulation changes" and not by direct UHI warming.

"The net effect on global mean temperatures is nearly negligible.."

From the BEST study ...
"The huge effects seen in prominent locations such as Tokyo has caused concern that the Tavg
estimates might be unduly affected by the urban heat effect; yet we find that was not true.
This is not surprising; the fraction of the Earth's land area denoted as urban by the MOD500
analysis is only 0.5%. Even if all these urban areas had a heat island effect as large as that
of Tokyo, roughly 3oC per century, the contribution to the world average once properly
weighted for land area would be only 0.5% of that, 0.015C per cent
julianpenrod
2.4 / 5 (14) Jan 28, 2013
A number of salient points.
Among other things, heat island effect was discussed for a numebr of years already.
Too, even if cities represent a destabilizing effect, a driver to global warming, note that the idea of man made climate change stays intact! Recent effects, caused by human actions on the environment, have created abnormally large and swift changes in climate! That's still, basically, what climate change adherents say! So this doesn't change the reality of man made climate change, it merely shifts the cause!
But, note, the insistence on those who oppose the very idea of climate change latching onto this as "disproof". In other words, the level of their "mentality", "Yes, climate change is occurring, but not because of the cause you calimed, therefore, climate change isn't occurring!"
VendicarE
3.6 / 5 (12) Jan 28, 2013
Hopper still hasn't read the article.

"but the heat islands are generating heat that can be recorded going out to 1000 miles" - Hopper

I advise him to do so.

If he is unable to read it, I will post the relevant sections for him, and explain them in words of only one syllable.
full_disclosure
1.4 / 5 (19) Jan 28, 2013
'Herr Vendicar' has childishly changed his personal login profile, slightly, just today, to avoid people following his name back through past comments.....

Anyone interested in this coward's death threats towards posters in the past comments section, follow them through the link below.

http://phys.org/p...ndicarD/
VendicarE
3.6 / 5 (9) Jan 29, 2013
No death threats were ever issued of course.

Full_disclosure lives in a land of Consrevative Delusion.

Soon a National Razor will be coming to an American City near you. Have your freedom list of Conservative traitors at the ready.
full_disclosure
1 / 5 (14) Jan 29, 2013
CAGW 'Death Poodle' strikes again....with his 'Green Murder Porn Fantasies'....

Keep on wanking bro'

Anyone interested in this coward's death threats towards posters in the past comments section, follow them through the link below. http://phys.org/p...ndicarD/
VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 29, 2013
You need to see a psychiatrist.

"Green Murder Porn Fantasies" - FullDiaper

Maybe he/she can get your toilet trained.

Have your Freedom lists at the ready people...

The National Razor will soon be coming to shave the Tea Bagger beard from Uncle Sam's face.
deepsand
2.4 / 5 (14) Jan 29, 2013
It's good to see that one can at least count on the denialists to provide for constancy.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (15) Jan 30, 2013
'Herr Vendicar' has childishly changed his personal login profile, slightly, just today, to avoid people following his name back through past comments.....

Anyone interested in this coward's death threats towards posters in the past comments section, follow them through the link below.

http://phys.org/p...ndicarD/
Actually, it does this when it gets banned from the site for its multiple offenses. I wish it would get a clue and just stay away.

deepsand
2.5 / 5 (13) Feb 01, 2013
I'd rather that a way first be found to keep the irrational among us away.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (12) Feb 03, 2013
I'd rather that a way first be found to keep the irrational among us away.
So your idea of rationality is deliberatey offensive language and terrorist threats? Really?
deepsand
2.5 / 5 (13) Feb 03, 2013
Setting aside that none here are capable of making plausible physical threats against others here gathered, you mistakenly conflate civility with rationality.

Yet one more example of your sloppy thinking.
VendicarE
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 03, 2013
UbVonTard points to an active profile and then claims that it has been banned from the site.

His mental disease prevents him from seeing the inherent contradiction in his own claim.

"Actually, it does this when it gets banned from the site for its multiple offenses." - UbVonTard

Pure Idiocy.
VendicarE
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 03, 2013
Apparently UbVonTard believes that the American Revolution was a terrorist act.

"terrorist threats" - UbVonTard

Have your freedom lists ready people. The time is almost here.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (11) Feb 04, 2013
Setting aside that none here are capable of making plausible physical threats against others here gathered, you mistakenly conflate civility with rationality.
Then it is pointless and therefore irrational to make said threats, isn't it?

Yet one more example of your sloppy thinking.
It appears the sloppy thinking is yours.
deepsand
2.3 / 5 (12) Feb 04, 2013
Then it is pointless and therefore irrational to make said threats, isn't it?

Non sequitur.

It appears the sloppy thinking is yours.

You have just demonstrated otherwise.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (12) Feb 04, 2013
Then it is pointless and therefore irrational to make said threats, isn't it?
Non sequitur.
Calling it a non sequitur when it isn't a non sequitur, is (in itself) a non sequitur.

It appears the sloppy thinking is yours.
You have just demonstrated otherwise.
Apparently, not.

But I do begin to wonder about your own state of rationality...

deepsand
2.3 / 5 (12) Feb 04, 2013
Your conclusion that "it is pointless and therefore irrational to make said threats" in most definitely non sequitur.

I leave it as an exercise for you to deduce why that is so.

Hint: Consider ALL possible motivations.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (11) Feb 04, 2013
Your conclusion that "it is pointless and therefore irrational to make said threats" in most definitely non sequitur.

I leave it as an exercise for you to deduce why that is so.

Hint: Consider ALL possible motivations.
Your desire to rationalize the extreme case is irrational. Any stupid thing can be rationalized by "considering ALL possible motivations." Rationality is a matter of logic and propriety in regards to context.

Name calling and threats are neither logical or appropriate in regards to the practice of science.

deepsand
2.3 / 5 (12) Feb 04, 2013
Any stupid thing can be rationalized by "considering ALL possible motivations."

Hm-mm; sounds like what the denialists regularly do when they attempt to use speculative assertions re. matters of policy to deny the validity of facts that do not support their desired conclusions.

Name calling and threats are neither logical or appropriate in regards to the practice of science.

And, yet, you and your ilk do just that when faced with irrefutable facts and First Principles.

If you want to be treated like rational adults, then act accordingly.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (12) Feb 04, 2013
Any stupid thing can be rationalized by "considering ALL possible motivations."

Hm-mm; sounds like what the denialists regularly do when they attempt to use speculative assertions re. matters of policy to deny the validity of facts that do not support their desired conclusions.
Non sequitur. This has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

Name calling and threats are neither logical or appropriate in regards to the practice of science.

And, yet, you and your ilk do just that when faced with irrefutable facts and First Principles.
Another non sequitur. The current discussion concerns name calling and threats perpetrated by one of yours, specifically.

If you want to be treated like rational adults, then act accordingly.
Ad hominem. Perhaps you might try following your own advice.

deepsand
2.7 / 5 (12) Feb 04, 2013
Non sequitur. This has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

It has everything to do with the behavior of you and your ilk.

Another non sequitur. The current discussion concerns name calling and threats perpetrated by one of yours, specifically.

This from one who repeatedly calls his opponents, e.g., dolts, congenital liars, morons, and idiots? :rolleyes:

YOU ARE A BLOODY HYPOCRITE.
Maggnus
3.7 / 5 (9) Feb 04, 2013
Irrationality:

"Here is a graph showing no warming for 16 years"
"That graph is inaccurate bacause it does not include all areas of the globe. Even then, it shows warming, albeit at a slower pace."
"Here is a graph showing no warming for the last 16 years."
"It has already been shown that that graph is inaccurate. Here is the updated graph which includes areas overlooked in the original. Clearly the corrected graph shows there continues to be warming."
"Here is a graph showing no warming for he last 16 years"
"Once again, it has been pointed out that the graph you are referencing was inaccurate, and also showed there was still warming."
"Heres a graph that shows no warming for 16 years."

Etc, etc, ad infinatum, ad nauseum.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (12) Feb 04, 2013
Non sequitur. This has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

It has everything to do with the behavior of you and your ilk.
It seems it is you and yours, perpetuating the petulance.

Another non sequitur. The current discussion concerns name calling and threats perpetrated by one of yours, specifically.

This from one who repeatedly calls his opponents, e.g., dolts, congenital liars, morons, and idiots? :rolleyes:
These are generally typical of Vendicar and your ilk.

YOU ARE A BLOODY HYPOCRITE.
And you're not?

So, whatever happened to rationality? Isn't it interesting that you've now lost yours, yet here I am, still calmly contributing to the discussion?

Anyway, I can see it's pointless to reason with you any further. Calm down and enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate, okay?

ubavontuba
1 / 5 (11) Feb 04, 2013
"Here is a graph showing no warming for the last 16 years."
"It has already been shown that that graph is inaccurate. Here is the updated graph which includes areas overlooked in the original. Clearly the corrected graph shows there continues to be warming."
"Here is a graph showing no warming for he last 16 years"
"Once again, it has been pointed out that the graph you are referencing was inaccurate, and also showed there was still warming."
"Heres a graph that shows no warming for 16 years."

Etc, etc, ad infinatum, ad nauseum.
Right. That's Vendicar substituting data it doesn't like and cherry picking biased data. The HadCRUT3 unadjusted global mean dataset is the oldest and least manipulated temperature dataset.

http://www.woodfo...13/trend

deepsand
2.8 / 5 (13) Feb 04, 2013
So, whatever happened to rationality? Isn't it interesting that you've now lost yours, yet here I am, still calmly contributing to the discussion?

And still a hypocrite.

You are neither rational nor assiduously civil, either here or in other threads.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (13) Feb 05, 2013
So, whatever happened to rationality? Isn't it interesting that you've now lost yours, yet here I am, still calmly contributing to the discussion?

And still a hypocrite.

You are neither rational nor assiduously civil, either here or in other threads.
Obviously, this appears to be more a problem with you and your ilk.

So, why is it the science discussion eludes you so?

deepsand
2.7 / 5 (12) Feb 05, 2013
So, why is it the science discussion eludes you so?

I don't engage in fool's errands such as attempting to debate sophists like you and yours.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (12) Feb 07, 2013
So, why is it the science discussion eludes you so?

I don't engage in fool's errands such as attempting to debate sophists like you and yours.
And yet here you are.

I have noticed you seem to be a one-trick pony though. So let me ask you a question: In 1984, who is the president of the United States?
VendicarE
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 07, 2013
Debating a sophist like you.

"And yet here you are." - UbvonTard

I prefer honesty.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (11) Feb 08, 2013
Debating a sophist like you.

"And yet here you are." - Uba

I prefer honesty.
LOL! You wouldn't know what honesty is if it spilled on your PC board and shorted out your circuits.

Spambots like Vendispambot are foisted on the world by the AGWite faithful.

If their science is so valid, why do they need childish insult spewing programs to proselytize their faith?