Proliferation of cooling towers to dispose of waste heat from power generating facilities might lead to development of large clouds, rain, and severe weather through excitation of natural atmospheric instability. Scale analysis shows that atmospheric response is not linear with respect to the heat dissipated. It also yields the form of the hydrodynamic equations applicable to the phenomena of interest. Numerical modeling is valuable for the study of such effects, especially for larger plants or greater concentrations of them than have heretofore been built. An existing model, tested on thermal emission from a refinery, reasonably matches observations. Variation of parameters shows that for equal heat rejection a dry tower can induce larger clouds than a wet tower. Variations of heat flux density, wind speed and vertical shear, and subgrid scale parameterizations are also studied. An improved model better suited to this application is described.
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