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HomeGeneralNew Study Reveals Underground Climate Change Below Populated U.S. Cities

New Study Reveals Underground Climate Change Below Populated U.S. Cities

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New York City at night
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Global warming is a big problem that mankind is only just waking up to. Not many pay attention to it enough as things stand, but that is sure to change in the future if mankind continues on this trajectory. 

Evidence of global warming has abounded in recent times, and now a new study has revealed that rising temperatures are not just affecting the surface.

What Is This New Study?

The study in Chicago says that underground infrastructure in American cities could be at risk due to temperature increases. And that urban infrastructure, like public transit, is causing subsurface heat islands.

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The Chicago Loop
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Exposed to these changes in temperature, materials like soil, rocks, and human-made construction materials have been known to shift and crack. 

How Was The Study Carried Out?

Rotta Loria and his team are the brains behind the study. To reach these conclusions, they studied this phenomenon for years by setting up temperature sensors across Chicago.

Sunset in California
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They centered their efforts in the Chicago Loop, known as the hub of both the surface and underground.

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The Captured Data Showed Major Heat Increase

The data showed that underground temperatures beneath the Loop are usually 50 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than beneath Grant Park.

Grant Park rose garden
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Loria used the information to create a 3D computer model that simulates how ground temperatures have changed since Chicago finalized its subway tunnels in 1951.

How the Underground Heat is Affecting Cities

When the ground warms up, deformation follows. This causes the nearby ground to crack and move.

New York City
Source: Pinterest

The movement ultimately causes long-term damage to the durability of the structure that is on top of this uneven ground. This means that buildings in the area may be ticking time bombs, 

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What Is Underground Climate Change?

According to ZME Science, the warmth from buildings and underground transportation spreads across many urban areas, causing an increase in the ground temperature.

A train on the Chicago rail system
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ZME Science refers to other research that shows this warming can increase temperature by between 30 and 36.5 degrees Fahrenheit every ten years.

What Happens If Underground Climate Change Happens Overtime?

“Deformations caused by underground climate change are relatively small in magnitude, but they continuously develop,” lead study author Alessandro Rotta Loria told CNN. 

Fountain at Grant Park
Source: Pinterest

She added that given time, these deformations could become very significant for the operational performance of civil infrastructure like building foundations, water retaining walls, and tunnels.

POLL—Is Climate Change a Major Threat That Requires Immediate Policy Action?

Underground Climate Change Is Not New 

Researchers have been looking into underground climate change for nearly three decades now. It’s meticulous work. However, there has been progress. 

A bus in Chicago
Source: Pinterest

This is the first time that researchers have been able to connect subsurface heat to city infrastructure.

Heat Islands Pose Hazard In Urban Areas

While it is easy to conclude the heat islands and deformations could be behind the recent wave of collapsing buildings, Loria says there is no direct correlation between them. 

A busy Chicago street
Source: Pinterest

However, there is no doubt that they are a “silent hazard” that can make buildings distort and tilt. 

Dense Cities Mean Heat Islands

Heat islands form beneath densely populated cities. This means that Other cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Miami may be affected by this phenomenon as well, not just Chicago.

Miami at night
Source: Pinterest

“The denser the city, the more intense is underground climate change,” Loria said. Dense cities have lots of infrastructure which could be a contributing factor. 

Ushering In A New Age for Energy Usage

This study has highlighted many potential consequences that can happen due to the heat islands. However, that is not all it was able to accomplish. 

Thermal insulation
Source: Pinterest

The study has also opened up new doors for how energy can be used for geothermal heating and cooling or channeled into thermal insulation.

Older Buildings Need to Channel Heat Better

Building new structures most likely won’t make the heat islands any worse than they already are. But it is a different case with older edifices. 

An old building in Chicago
Source: Pinterest

Older buildings are a problem, but they may be able to undergo retrofitting to channel heat better. 

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More Potential Effects Of Global Warming 

Global warming is a looming threat everyone should contribute to alleviating. Aside from how it is affecting underground climate, it is also causing more glaciers to melt. 

Source: Pinterest

These glaciers are believed to house ancient pathogens like the zombie virus discovered in 2014. These pathogens lie dormant in the ice, but as it melts, they may spread, becoming another pandemic. 

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