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Heat in the Cities Affect Faraway Places: New Modeling Research

According to the new modeling research, the excess amount of heat produced by the cities could heat up rural areas as far as 1000 miles or 1600 km away.

Jan 29, 2013 13:24 IST
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According to the new modeling research conducted by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, the excess amount of heat which is produced by the cities can be responsible for heating the rural areas as far as 1000 miles or 1600 km away.

The new research indicated that the cities mainly in the Northern Hemisphere can lead to an increase in the heat in faraway rural places, raising the temperatures to up to 1 degree Celsius. The modeling research was conducted with the help of data from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which is a leading source of global climate data.

The scientists cited urban island heat effect in order to explain the reason behind cities being hotter than rural and suburban areas. Greater population, more paved surfaces, more houses and cars can convert the energy into heat, which in turn is radiated in the atmosphere, leading to increased temperatures.

Actually, the reason is global air flow. The heat which is produced by the people and the cars climbs up to about 2500 feet or 4023 km up in the atmosphere, thereby disturbing the part of jet stream which continuously circulates the belt of cool air around top most position of the Earth. When the hot air stops the jet stream, it compels the belt to move upward, which in turn allows the warmer air from Equator to shift further north, thereby increasing the temperatures of Northern Europe and North America. In case this was not the scenario, the areas in North America and Northern Europe would have been cooler than now.

In the Northern hemisphere, there are 86 crucial metropolitan areas which cover just 1.27 percent of the surface of the Earth. However, these crucial areas consume 6.7 terawatts of energy in a year, which actually represents 42 percent of the annual global consumption. It is for this reason that the influence of global climate in these cities is magnified.
As of now, the reason for global climate change was attributed to just the greenhouse gases. But the reality is that the Earth is warming in certain areas at a faster pace than predicted.

A meteorologist at Scripps who conducted the study, Guang Zhang explained that the effect of urban heat which is produced by the energy consumption can be a reason for extra warming. The scientists have therefore found the missing part of the puzzle that completes the reason for warming.

Guang Zhang additionally explained that the areas which are crucially affected by the urban heat are Northern Canada and Siberia, where the temperatures rise from 0.8° to 1°C because of excess heat in their faraway cities such as San Francisco and New York. In the South, areas such as Michigan and Minnesota could see an increase in a temperature of 0.3°C.
Even though the aggregate climate of the Earth affects every place on this planet, but the effects of heat from the city were mostly seen in the Northern Hemisphere, where around 90 percent of the overall population of the Earth resides.

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