Thermal pollution

  • thermal pollution
  • The excessive raising or lowering of water temperature above or below normal seasonal ranges in streams, lakes, or estuaries or oceans as the result of discharge of hot or cold effluents into such water.
Abstract from DBPedia
    Thermal pollution, sometimes called "thermal enrichment," is the degradation of water quality by any process that changes ambient water temperature. Thermal pollution is the rise or fall in the temperature of a natural body of water caused by human influence. Thermal pollution, unlike chemical pollution, results in a change in the physical properties of water. A common cause of thermal pollution is the use of water as a coolant by power plants and industrial manufacturers. Urban runoff—stormwater discharged to surface waters from rooftops, roads and parking lots—and reservoirs can also be a source of thermal pollution. Thermal pollution can also be caused by the release of very cold water from the base of reservoirs into warmer rivers. When water used as a coolant is returned to the natural environment at a higher temperature, the sudden change in temperature decreases oxygen supply and affects ecosystem composition. Fish and other organisms adapted to particular temperature range can be killed by an abrupt change in water temperature (either a rapid increase or decrease) known as "thermal shock." Warm coolant water can also have long term effects on water temperature, increasing the overall temperature of water bodies, including deep water. Seasonality effects how these temperature increases are distributed throughout the water column. Elevated water temperatures decrease oxygen levels, which can kill fish and alter food chain composition, reduce species biodiversity, and foster invasion by new thermophilic species.