Global Warming? – The Urban Heat Effect

I am going to keep this very simple. The Urban Heat Effect does not affect nearby areas and does not contribute to global warming, but the IPCC insists on measuring it. 

Urban areas are warm due to increased area of thermal mass such as pavements and heat sources such as air conditioners and industrial plants. This is known as the urban heat island (UHI) effect.

Urban temperatures over the last 100 years typically look like this:


Rural temperatures in the same area over the last 100 years typically look like this:


Note that the urban heat trends have no effect on the rural surroundings and thus no effect on the climate in general. These measurements should have been discarded, but the IPCC includes them as contributing to global warming.

Graphs came from the Applied Information System website:

You can see more comparisons of rural and urban heating trends here.

If you look at the two sets of graphs it becomes apparent that urban areas do not affect the temperature trends of the undisturbed rural environment. 

These urban measurements are not measuring climate change, they are measuring ‘human energy production’.

If we were serious about measuring temperature trends of the earth in terms of global warming and cooling, we would completely disregard any urban measurements because they have no effect on the global climate.

The IPCC has "adjusted" the urban measurements and still includes them in their computer model. They are including heat from thousands of local heat sources even though these do not affect climate change.

Here are two videos which may give you some insight into the urban heat effect. The first is entertaining and factual. The second is just factual.

Global Warming Heat Effect

Global Warming or Global Governance – The Effect of Urban Heat Islands on Temperature Measurements

So why is the urban heat effect such a big deal?

Many MMTS stations which were in rural areas are now in urban areas. Even those in rural areas have undergone changes and may no longer be useful. The article "How not to measure temperature" describes an all too typical degradation of a measurement site.

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0 Responses to Global Warming? – The Urban Heat Effect

  1. Jack Russell says:

    Hiya David,

    I offer two bits of anecdotal rebuttal to your comments.

    First, for you to suggest that Urban Heat Effect does not affect nearby rural areas is to contradict the noted scientist Joni Mitchell, who in her white paper on the topic, noted that, “They paved over paradise and put in a parking lot.” 😉

    Second, during my career years in Houston, the prevailing joke was that on every day’s commute home, one would see the city work crew moving the city limit signs outward another 100 yards.

    All kidding aside though, the inevitable urban expansion into previously rural areas must have some effect on that area. I can see that a rural monitoring device might record no appreciable increase in temperatures for the remaining rural land. But if we can agree that thermal mass and heat island effect do make urban areas warmer than rural areas, then increasing urban area at the loss of rural area would have to yield a higher temperature for the combined area wouldn’t it?

    I didn’t burrow into the stats to which you referred far enough to divine if the temperature recordings are adjusted in any way relative to the changing size of the physical areas being monitored. Wouldn’t that be relevant to the conclusions, too?

  2. Jeffrey King says:

    Wow David. I think you are really making it simple in overall conclusion. To say that changing the landscape and thermal qualities of the surface of the Earth can have no impact is a stretch for me. The breeze at the shore is thermal action and so are thermal drafts that vultures soar on.

    Heat goes toward cold and perhaps we should have historical data about the atmosphere and it’s composition. That technology hasn’t been around as long as surface thermometers. Our planet extends to the last remnant of our stratosphere.

    There is nothing simple about any of it. I was reminded of this yesterday when the weather conditions were perfect to exaggerate the contrails from a surprising amount of traffic over my little dot on the map. This does make for some interesting pictures and mind wandering.

    Sorry for wandering off topic about data gathering. The manatees in Florida appreciate the man made spa where power plants remove water for steam production or cooling and discharge man made heated back into the water supply.

    To state that this heat means nothing to the planet because it can’t be detected some distance downstream, or across the lake, is really distorting a thought process.

  3. Perhaps you can explain how temperatures that have not risen in 100 years are being affected by localities where man made activity is showing increases every year.

    Impact is when something changes. At this point in our evolution our cities are not affecting the temperature of areas outside the cities.

    Global temperature is not a localized phenomena. Hotter cities do not warm the earth or seas. Look at the temperature trends again. Only the urban areas are getting warmer.

    For a really simple example: we do not take someone’s temperature orally if they have been drinking coffee. If we do so, we would have to conclude that the person has a great fever. The prudent medical practitioner finds another orifice to stick the thermometer in.

    If people are concerned that cities are warming up, I suggest that they concentrate on localized solutions to that problem, as it is clearly not a global problem.

  4. Zack St Lawrence says:

    You may have selection bias in your arguments and there may be bias in the appinsys site as it is very popular with global warming skeptics. (googling on references led to a lot of climate skeptic sites but not many pure science sites which makes me dubious of its reliability as a source for reputable data)

    Also when I picked a random selection of ocean measurements not in the zone they pre-displayed I found a upward trend of roughly half a degree over a century which is essentially what climate scientists have been saying.

    I tried this on 3 different sets of data. But when I used the default selection area I had a much flatter graph then when I randomly picked ocean measurements of a different area to summarize. This makes me strongly suspect site agenda shapes the data presented.

    Also when I graphed the entire world’s oceans I saw that ocean temperatures were almost uniformly up.

    I have no problem with scientific data, but I do have a problem with disregard for scientific method in pursuit of an agenda which I suspect that site of doing. I was able to use their own data reselected without bias to get different results from their articles and presented data.

  5. GBGames says:

    Well, it’s like what David said: It all depends on what you measure. B-)

    Again, to believe that the world’s scientists have some kind of agenda that would inspire them to conspire and have the organizational power to do so is incredible.

    The other option is that all of them have somehow come to the wrong conclusions based on bad data. I presume that they all aren’t using the same data and have all come up with their own independently, though. Like I had said before, I doubt they all looked of IPCC’s shoulder and stole the answers. Again, I find it highly improbable.

    Each bit of research is all wrong, or it is all purposefully done wrong for some nefarious purpose.
    Assuming that AGW isn’t real, what other conclusions can we come to?

    It sounds more credible that Zack is right and that the minority of science that claims AGW is false is what is actually wrong, whether it is on purpose or not.

    Also, intuitively, how does one conclude that we can disregard areas of highly concentrated human input when talking about the whole being affected by it? Isn’t that like saying we can disregard all jars covered with a mesh because it prevents the vital force from creating maggots from the meat in them?

  6. Dan Sims says:

    There seems to be a false belief by some who are making comments that AGW is settled when there are thousands of highly reputable scientists who dispute AGW. It is interesting that when satellites are used, and data is compared with weather balloons for temperature measurements the results are within about 3/100’s of a percent, yet when ground measurements are used they are quite different. I believe data based on observed physical conditions is more accurate than data based on theoretical computer models.

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