January 27, 2013 — The warm temperatures recently recorded in New York, Paris and Tokyo could affect the winters in Alaska, Canada and Siberia, according to a surprising study recently published in Nature Climate Change.
According to the study, urban heat from major international cities could cool fall temperatures in the western United States, eastern Europe and countries near the Mediterranean.
Meteorologists have known for some time that temperatures tend to be higher in cities.
This is due to the heat generated by cars and buildings as well as the presence of heat-absorbing asphalt and roof tops.
It was previously believed that these "heat islands" remained within city walls, but the study indicates that heat can travel a distance of 800 meters in the air, influencing air currents.
While this doesn't appear to have a significant influence on global temperatures, the findings provide new insight into how heat is redistributed.
Heating patterns appear to vary depending on the season and the direction of the air current.
Computer models suggest that the average winter temperature for parts of Siberia and northwest Canada could increase by as much as one degree.
With files from the Canadian Press