Earth Thermal Emissions and Global Warming

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Rizwan Nawaz
Adel Sharif
Wasim Rehman


When fossil fuels are extracted from the earth, they are naturally replaced by a layer of water. Water has high thermal conductivity as compared to coal, oil, and gas. This will increase the heat transfer rate from the underground in all directions but most importantly towards the surface of the earth and seas due to the greater temperature difference.  Additionally, heat losses and thermal emissions from boreholes will be even higher and given that there are more than 4 million onshore hydrocarbon wells (producing and non-producing) around the world, the heat emissions could be significant.  Added to this is the heat from thousands of coal mines across the world.  We review the literature and report on temperature trends observed in areas subject to fossil fuel extraction.  We find that land and sea areas subject to fossil fuel extraction are experiencing relatively high rates of temperature rise.   We examine the case of the Arctic in some detail and compare sea-ice extent change in both the Arctic and Antarctica. We find that despite increasing levels of CO2 observed in the Polar Regions, sea-ice extent is shrinking in the Arctic and expanding in the Antarctic.  We believe that a possible cause of shrinking sea-ice in the Arctic could be geothermal heat rising to the surface as a direct result of fossil fuel extraction in regions such as Siberia and Alaska. To provide a crude approximation of the heat released from the earth’s interior and subsequent impact on global average temperature as a result of earth insulation loss, we use worldwide oil and gas production data from 2007 until 2017.  We find the subsequent impact on global surface temperature over this period to be 0.026°C compared with an observed temperature rise of 0.15°C.  This amounts to 17% of total warming observed over the period attributable to earth insulation loss, which is significant.  We end by making some suggestions on further research necessary to fully understand the possible effect of earth insulation loss on rising global temperature.

Global warming, climate change, thermal emissions, fossil fuels, earth insulation, Arctic, Antarctica

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How to Cite
Nawaz, R., Sharif, A., & Rehman, W. (2019). Earth Thermal Emissions and Global Warming. Journal of Scientific Research and Reports, 23(2), 1-10.
Short communication