How we’re ruining the weather in Cincinnati

Pretty, for a giant heating unit. Photo: Gravitywave/Flickr

Pretty, for a giant heating unit. Photo: Gravitywave/Flickr

We all know how big cities tend to have their own mini-climate. Heat generated by heaps of machinery, asphalt and millions of bodies in one place tends to make cities a bit warmer (Chicago’s strange role reversal with the suburbs comes from the famous Lake Effect, so it doesn’t disprove this phenomenon). Now it seems that we’re ruining the party for less populated areas.

According to a new study in Nature Climate Change, our generated heat travels. When cities emit warmth, the natural jet stream moves that heat to other towns and areas, increasing their general temperatures by as much as 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. These places can be as far away as 1000 miles and still be affected. Researchers also pinpoint that traveling warmth to mechanical sources, like air conditioners and vehicles, not the heat-emitting asphalt.

The findings fill some holes that climate researchers had noticed this winter, when North America and Asia experienced a larger than expected warming trend. Researchers say urban heater cities are likely responsible for that added burst of warmth this year.

So sorry, Medinah, Ohio and Auburn, Indiana. Our bad.


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