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Could Underground Climate Change Cause Geothermal Gentrification?

How Heat Underground Will Affect Life In Our Cities!


A new study called Transformative Urban Regeneration: Two Paradigmatic Examples in Boston and Paris enlightens the positives and threats of Geothermal Gentrification!

A phenomenon that scientists have called “underground climate change” is deforming the ground beneath cities, a study conducted in Chicago has found. This shifting of land under urban areas could pose a problem for buildings and infrastructure, threatening long-term performance and durability, according to the research. Technically known as “subsurface heat islands,” underground climate change is the warming of the ground under our feet, caused by heat released by buildings and subterranean transportation such as subway systems.


“The denser the city, the more intense is underground climate change,” said lead study author Alessandro Rotta Loria, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Soil, rocks and construction materials deform when subjected to temperature variations. For example, the ground underneath buildings can contract when heated, causing unwanted settlement, Rotta Loria said.


“Deformations caused by underground climate change are relatively small in magnitude, but they continuously develop,” he said. “Over time, they can become very significant for the operational performance of civil infrastructure like building foundations, water retaining walls, tunnels and so on.”



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