PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2014, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (8): 1029-1038.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2014.08.003

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Review of research on anthropogenic heat under climate change

Wangmin YANG(), Chong JIANG, Xiaoyong YU, Xuefeng CUI()   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Online:2014-08-25 Published:2014-08-25


Anthropogenic heat is wasted heat in the form of sensible and latent heat that is released to the urban canopy and planetary boundary layer of cities as a result of human activities, often involving combustion of fuels. It is estimated that nearly 70% of energy produced is consumed within cities that only occupy 2% of the global land area. Buildings, transportation, and human metabolism are the primary sources of heat discharge in cities. For example, in Manchester, the source fractions are 60%, 32% and 8%, respectively. However, the relative contributions of these sources vary greatly in different regions. The magnitude of the anthropogenic heat flux (AHF) in urban areas is very large and shows clear daily and seasonal changes. The peak of anthropogenic heat occurs in the dawn and dust during a day and summer and winter during a year. AHF can be calculated using observation or inventory approaches. Observation methods include surface energy balance and in situ eddy covariance observations. The surface energy balance method is usually based on meteorological and remote sensing data. IMAS (identification of micro-scale anthropogenic sources) filtering on data observed with eddy covariance systems was proposed to identify anthropogenic heat. Currently, inventory approaches (bottom-up and top-down) are widely used. In the top-down approach, energy consumption aggregated at coarse temporal and spatial resolutions is mapped to a finer spatial grid. Unlike the bottom-up method that demands detailed statistics of traffic and building height and floor space to determine the overall growth of the entire urban area from the subsystem scale upward, the top-down approach is suited for estimating anthropogenic heat at large scales. On the regional scale, impacts on regional climate, human health and urban ecology are posed by anthropogenic heat through adding heat and water vapor in thermodynamic energy and water vapor equations. It has been reported that the annual mean warming across western Europe is 0.1 K to 0.5 K due to AHF. On the global scale, the effect of anthropogenic heat release on global temperature is not significant at present. However, with the increasing of energy demand, there will be more anthropogenic heat discharged and accordingly more effect on global climate system. For example, the global average temperature is projected to increase by 0.4 K to 0.9 K from 2004 to 2100 if the elevated rate of energy consumption in 2004 is maintained. AHF may also affect regional precipitation and disrupt global atmospheric circulation patterns. With soaring increscent of global energy demand and population especially in developing countries, there will be a large quantity of anthropogenic heat released into the atmosphere, which will become one of the anthropogenic forcing for regional and global climate change. It is therefore important to estimate a high precise dataset of anthropogenic heat for simulating its climatic effects.

Key words: anthropogenic heat, surface energy balance, urban heat island, regional climate, inventory approach, effects

CLC Number: 

  • P422