Development of a national anthropogenic heating database with an extrapolation for international cities

David Sailor, Matei Georgescu, Jeffrey M. Milne, Melissa A. Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


Given increasing utility of numerical models to examine urban impacts on meteorology and climate, there exists an urgent need for accurate representation of seasonally and diurnally varying anthropogenic heating data, an important component of the urban energy budget for cities across the world. Incorporation of anthropogenic heating data as inputs to existing climate modeling systems has direct societal implications ranging from improved prediction of energy demand to health assessment, but such data are lacking for most cities. To address this deficiency we have applied a standardized procedure to develop a national database of seasonally and diurnally varying anthropogenic heating profiles for 61 of the largest cities in the United Stated (U.S.). Recognizing the importance of spatial scale, the anthropogenic heating database developed includes the city scale and the accompanying greater metropolitan area. Our analysis reveals that a single profile function can adequately represent anthropogenic heating during summer but two profile functions are required in winter, one for warm climate cities and another for cold climate cities. On average, although anthropogenic heating is 40% larger in winter than summer, the electricity sector contribution peaks during summer and is smallest in winter. Because such data are similarly required for international cities where urban climate assessments are also ongoing, we have made a simple adjustment accounting for different international energy consumption rates relative to the U.S. to generate seasonally and diurnally varying anthropogenic heating profiles for a range of global cities. The methodological approach presented here is flexible and straightforwardly applicable to cities not modeled because of presently unavailable data. Because of the anticipated increase in global urban populations for many decades to come, characterizing this fundamental aspect of the urban environment - anthropogenic heating - is an essential element toward continued progress in urban climate assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-18
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015



  • Anthropogenic heating
  • Atmospheric models
  • Urban climate
  • Waste heat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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