- Publications & Research
- Publication #484
Metabolic heat production by human and animal populations in cities
- Metabolic heat production by human and animal populations in cities
- Iain D. Stewart
- Christopher Kennedy
- Journal Article
International Journal of Biometeorology
- Anthropogenic heating from building energy use, vehicle fuel consumption, and human metabolism is a key term in the urban energy budget equation. Heating from human metabolism, however, is often excluded from urban energy budgets because it is widely observed to be negligible. Few reports for low-latitude cities are available to support this observation, and no reports exist on the contribution of domestic animals to urban heat budgets. To provide a more comprehensive view of metabolic heating in cities, we quantified all terms of the anthropogenic heat budget at metropolitan scale for the world's 26 largest cities, using a top-down statistical approach. Results show that metabolic heat release from human populations in mid-latitude cities (e.g. London, Tokyo, New York) accounts for 4-8% of annual anthropogenic heating, compared to 10-45% in high-density tropical cities (e.g. Cairo, Dhaka, Kolkata). Heat release from animal populations amounts to <1% of anthropogenic heating in all cities. Heat flux density from human and animal metabolism combined is highest in Mumbai—the world's most densely populated megacity—at 6.5 W m−2, surpassing heat production by electricity use in buildings (5.8 W m−2) and fuel combustion in vehicles (3.9 W m−2). These findings, along with recent output from global climate models, suggest that in the world's largest and most crowded cities, heat emissions from human metabolism alone can force measurable change in mean annual temperature at regional scale.
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