Urban Modification in a Mesoscale Model and the Effects on the Local Circulation in the Pearl River Delta Region

Jeff C. F. Lo Atmospheric, Marine, and Coastal Environment Program, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China

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Alexis K. H. Lau Environmental Central Facility, Institute for the Environment, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China

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Fei Chen National Center for Atmospheric Research, +Boulder, Colorado

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Jimmy C. H. Fung Department of Mathematics, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China

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Kenneth K. M. Leung Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong, China

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Abstract

The Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, located in the southern part of Guangdong Province in China, is one of the most rapidly developing regions in the world. The evolution of local and regional sea-breeze circulation (SBC) is believed to be responsible for forming meteorological conditions for high air-pollution episodes in the PRD. To understand better the impacts of urbanization and its associated urban heat island (UHI) on the local- and regional-scale atmospheric circulations over PRD, a number of high-resolution numerical experiments, with different approaches to treat the land surface and urban processes, have been conducted using the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5). The results show that an accurate urban land-use dataset and a proper urban land-use parameterization are critical for the mesoscale model to capture the major features of the observed UHI effect and land–sea-breeze circulations in the PRD. Stronger UHI in the PRD increases the differential temperature gradient between urbanized areas and nearby ocean surface and hence enhances the mesoscale SBC. The SBC front consequently penetrates farther inland to overcome the prevailing easterly flow in the western part of inland Hong Kong. Additional sensitivity studies indicate that further industrial development and urbanization will strengthen the daytime SBC as well as increase the air temperature in the lowest 2 km of the atmosphere.

* Current affiliation: Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

Corresponding author address: Jeff C. F. Lo, Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C1100, Austin, TX 78712-0254. Email: jeffcf_lo@mail.utexas.edu

Abstract

The Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, located in the southern part of Guangdong Province in China, is one of the most rapidly developing regions in the world. The evolution of local and regional sea-breeze circulation (SBC) is believed to be responsible for forming meteorological conditions for high air-pollution episodes in the PRD. To understand better the impacts of urbanization and its associated urban heat island (UHI) on the local- and regional-scale atmospheric circulations over PRD, a number of high-resolution numerical experiments, with different approaches to treat the land surface and urban processes, have been conducted using the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5). The results show that an accurate urban land-use dataset and a proper urban land-use parameterization are critical for the mesoscale model to capture the major features of the observed UHI effect and land–sea-breeze circulations in the PRD. Stronger UHI in the PRD increases the differential temperature gradient between urbanized areas and nearby ocean surface and hence enhances the mesoscale SBC. The SBC front consequently penetrates farther inland to overcome the prevailing easterly flow in the western part of inland Hong Kong. Additional sensitivity studies indicate that further industrial development and urbanization will strengthen the daytime SBC as well as increase the air temperature in the lowest 2 km of the atmosphere.

* Current affiliation: Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

Corresponding author address: Jeff C. F. Lo, Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C1100, Austin, TX 78712-0254. Email: jeffcf_lo@mail.utexas.edu

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