Air conditioners warm Phoenix, Arizona at night - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Air conditioners warm Phoenix, Arizona at night

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Phoenix, Arizona Phoenix, Arizona

Arizona State Research Scientist Francisco Salamanca and some of his colleagues published a report recently called "Use of Air Conditioners Increases Nighttime Temperatures, Escalates Demand for Air Conditioning".
The findings are eye opening and focus on the rapid growth or urbanization of  Phoenix, Arizona.  The report states that the heat release from outdoor air conditioning components adds to the temperature rise already attributed to the city's growth.
The concept of warming due to growing cities or urbanization is nothing new.  When cities spread out...new construction brings in more concrete, buildings, dark colored roof tops, more cars and reduces the amount of greenery and trees.  Therefore, the new urban settings absorb more of the sun's heat and in turn release it to the surrounding ambient.  In other words, the city growth changes the local weather in the short term and over the long haul...the climate...producing what's called an Urban Heat Island Effect.

You've probably noticed this even here in the ArkLaTex where local temperatures in the smaller communities or in the countryside are several degrees cooler than in the bigger cities like Shreveport especially at night.

But, what's interesting about the report findings is that residential and business air conditioning units release a...significant...amount of heat to Phoenix's ambient environment.  And this heat becomes trapped close to the ground at night when the winds subside, the skies clear and the usual temperature inversion develops.  In fact, the study showed that phoenix's temperature rose an average of 2 degrees Fahrenheit during Arizona State University's 10 day, July 2009 study.

So, the warmer nighttime hours caused residents to lower their thermostats to compensate.  Then, the harder working ac units dumped even more heat into the environment.  This back and forth...cause and effect relationship was termed in the report as a positive loop feedback process that could eventually significantly stress the power grid serving Phoenix.

And if you think about this heating process from growing cities all over the world, global warming is possible even without considering the increasing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.
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