International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 61, Issue 7, pp 1159–1171 | Cite as

Metabolic heat production by human and animal populations in cities

  • Iain D. StewartEmail author
  • Chris A. Kennedy
Original Paper


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.


Urban climate Anthropogenic heating Human and animal metabolism Urban energy use Megacities 



Funding for this research was provided by the Enel Foundation, Rome.


  1. Acha RN (1969) Algunas consideraciones sobre las condiciones actuals de la rabia en las Americas [Some considerations on the present status of rabies in the Americas]. B Ofic Sanit Panam 66:211–217Google Scholar
  2. Allen L, Lindberg F, Grimmond CSB (2011) Global to city scale urban anthropogenic heat flux: model and variability. Int J Climatol 31:1990–2005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alves MCP, Matos MR, Reichmann ML, Dominguez MH (2005) Estimation of the dog and cat population in the state of São Paulo. Rev Saude Publ 39:891–897CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck A (1973) The ecology of stray dogs—a study of free-ranging urban animals. York Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  5. Blaxter K (1989) Energy metabolism in animals and man. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Clancy EA, Rowan AN (2003) Companion animal demographics in the United States: a historical perspective. In: Salem DJ, Rowan AN (eds) The state of the animals II. Humane Society Press, Washington, pp. 9–26Google Scholar
  7. Elsom D (1987) Atmospheric pollution: causes, effects and control policies. Basil Blackwell Ltd, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Fan H, Sailor DJ (2005) Modeling the impacts of anthropogenic heating on the urban climate of Philadelphia: a comparison of implementations in two PBL schemes. Atmos Environ 39:73–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. FAO (2002) World agriculture: toward 2015/2030. Summary report. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), RomeGoogle Scholar
  10. Feldmann BM (1974) The problem of urban dogs. Science 185(4155):903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ferreira MJ, Oliveira AP, Soares J (2011) Anthropogenic heat in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Theor Appl Climatol 104:43–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fischer G (1990) Heat pollution and global warming. Environ Conserv 17:117–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Flanner MG (2009) Integrating anthropogenic heat flux with global climate models. Geophys Res Lett 36:L02801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Found Animals Foundation (2009) Dog and cat population estimates—city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, technical report. Found Animals Foundation, Los Angeles.
  15. Fuentes-Rangel MC, Cardenas-Lara J, Aluja AS (1980) The canine population of Mexico City: an estimative study. Anim Regulat Stud 3:281–290Google Scholar
  16. Ginzburg AS, Belova IN, Raspletina NV (2011) Anthropogenic heat fluxes in urban agglomerations. Dokl Earth Sci 439 :1006–1009Part ICrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grimmond CSB (1992) The suburban energy balance: methodological considerations and results for a mid-latitude west coast city under winter and spring conditions. Int J Climatol 12:481–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grimmond CSB, Blackett M, Best MJ et al (2010) The international urban energy balance models comparison project: first results from phase 1. J Appl Meteorol Clim 49:1268–1292Google Scholar
  19. Harrison R, McGoldrick B (1981) Mapping artificial heat release in Great Britain. Atmos Environ 15:667–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Iamarino M, Beevers S, Grimmond CSB (2012) High-resolution (space, time) anthropogenic heat emissions: London 1970–2025. Int J Climatol 32:1754–1767CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kennedy C, Stewart ID, Ibrahim N, Facchini A, Mele R (2014) Developing a multi-layered indicator set for urban metabolism studies in megacities. Ecol Indic 47:7–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kennedy CA, Stewart ID, Facchini A et al (2015) Energy and material flows of megacities. P Natl Acad Sci USA 112:5985–5990CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Klysik K (1996) Spatial and seasonal distribution of anthropogenic heat emissions in Lodz, Poland. Atmos Environ 30:3397–3404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Knobel DL, Cleaveland S, Coleman PG et al (2005) Re-evaluating the burden of rabies in Africa and Asia. B World Health Organ 83:360–368Google Scholar
  25. Knobel DL, Laurenson MK, Kazwala RR, Boden LA, Cleaveland S (2008) A cross-sectoral study of factors associated with dog ownership in Tanzania. BMC Vet Res 4(5)Google Scholar
  26. Kondo H, Kikegawa Y (2003) Temperature variation in the urban canopy with anthropogenic energy use. Pure Appl Geophys 160:317–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lee SH, Song CK, Baik JJ, Park SU (2009) Estimation of anthropogenic heat emission in the Gyeong-In region of Korea. Theor Appl Climatol 96:291–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lindberg F, CSB G, Yogeswaran N, Korrhaus S, Allen L (2013) Impact of city changes and weather on anthropogenic heat flux in Europe 1995–2015. Urban Clim 4:1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lukose A (2014) Close to a lakh stray dogs in Greater Mumbai: Survey. The Indian Express, February 16Google Scholar
  30. McCarthy MP, Best MJ, Betts RA (2010) Climate change in cities due to global warming and urban effects. Geophys Res Lett 37:L09705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Morita M (1993) Study on heat exhaust structure of major cities in Japan. Environ Sys Res 21:19–26 [in Japanese]CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Murray JK, Browne WJ, Roberts MA, Whitmarsh A, Gruffydd-Jones TJ (2010) Number and ownership profiles of cats and dogs in the UK. Vet Rec 166:163–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Newcombe K (1975) Energy use in Hong Kong: part I, an overview. Urban Ecol 1:87–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nordell B (2003) Thermal pollution causes global warming. Glob Planet Chang 38:305–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Oboegbulem SI, Nwakonobi IE (1989) Population density and ecology of dogs in Nigeria: a pilot study. Scientific and Technical Review of the Office International des Epizooties (Paris) 8:733–745Google Scholar
  36. Ojima T, Moriyama M (1982) Earth surface heat balance changes caused by urbanisation. Energ. Buildings 4:99–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Oke TR (1987) Boundary layer climates. Methuen and Co, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Pigeon G, Legain D, Durand P, Masson V (2007) Anthropogenic heat release in an old European agglomeration (Toulouse, France). Int J Climatol 27:1969–1981CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sailor DJ (2011) A review of methods for estimating anthropogenic heat and moisture emissions in the urban environment. Int J Climatol 31:189–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sailor DJ, Lu L (2004) A top-down methodology for determining diurnal and seasonal anthropogenic heating profiles for urban areas. Atmos Environ 38:2737–2748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sailor DJ, Georgescu M, Milne JM, Hart MA (2015) Development of a national anthropogenic heating database with an extrapolation for international cities. Atmos Environ 118:7–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schlere H, van der Hoek R (2001) Livestock keeping in urban areas: a review of traditional technologies based on literature and field experiences, FAO Animal and Health Production Paper No 151. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  43. Singh BB, Ghatak S, Banga HS, JPS G, Sing B (2013) Veterinary urban hygiene: a challenge for urban India. Scientific and Technical Review of the Office International des Epizooties (Paris) 32:645–656Google Scholar
  44. Smith C, Lindley S, Levermore G (2009) Estimating spatial and temporal patterns of urban anthropogenic heat fluxes for UK cities: the case of Manchester. Theor Appl Climatol 98:19–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tenzin T, Ahmed R, Debnath NC, Ahmed G, Yamage M (2015) Free-roaming dog population estimation and status of the dog population management and rabies control program in Dhaka City, Bangladesh. PLOS Neglect Trop D 9(5)Google Scholar
  46. Thys E, Oueadraogo M, Speybroeck N, Geerts S (2005) Socioeconomic determinants of urban household livestock keeping in semi-arid Western Africa. J Arid Environ 63:475–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Walpole SC, Prieto-Merino D, Edwards P, Cleland J, Stevens G, Roberts I (2012) The weight of nations: an estimation of adult human biomass. BMC Public Health 12 (439)Google Scholar
  48. WHO (World Health Organization) (1987) Guidelines for dog rabies control, technical report. WHO, Geneva.Google Scholar
  49. Zhang GJ, Cai M, Hu A (2013) Energy consumption and the unexplained winter warming over northern Asia and North America. Nat Clim Chang 3:466–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© ISB 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations