The International Urban Energy Balance Models Comparison Project: First Results from Phase 1

C. S. B. Grimmond King’s College London, London, United Kingdom

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M. Blackett King’s College London, London, United Kingdom

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M. J. Best Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom

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J. Barlow University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

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J-J. Baik Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea

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S. E. Belcher University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

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S. I. Bohnenstengel University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

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I. Calmet Laboratoire de Mécanique des Fluides, CNRS-Ecole Centrale de Nantes, Nantes, France

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F. Chen National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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A. Dandou National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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K. Fortuniak University of Łódź, Łódź, Poland

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M. L. Gouvea King’s College London, London, United Kingdom

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R. Hamdi Royal Meteorological Institute, Uccle, Belgium

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M. Hendry Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom

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T. Kawai Ehime University, Matsuyama, Japan

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Y. Kawamoto The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

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H. Kondo National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba, Japan

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E. S. Krayenhoff University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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S-H. Lee University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

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T. Loridan King’s College London, London, United Kingdom

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A. Martilli CIEMAT, Madrid, Spain

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V. Masson CNRM-GAME Meteo France-CNRS, Toulouse, France

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S. Miao IUM, CMA, Beijing, China

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K. Oleson National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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G. Pigeon CNRM-GAME Meteo France-CNRS, Toulouse, France

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A. Porson Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom
Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Y-H. Ryu University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

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F. Salamanca CIEMAT, Madrid, Spain

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L. Shashua-Bar Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

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G-J. Steeneveld Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands

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M. Tombrou National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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J. Voogt University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

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D. Young King’s College London, London, United Kingdom

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N. Zhang Nanjing University, Nanjing, China

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Abstract

A large number of urban surface energy balance models now exist with different assumptions about the important features of the surface and exchange processes that need to be incorporated. To date, no comparison of these models has been conducted; in contrast, models for natural surfaces have been compared extensively as part of the Project for Intercomparison of Land-surface Parameterization Schemes. Here, the methods and first results from an extensive international comparison of 33 models are presented. The aim of the comparison overall is to understand the complexity required to model energy and water exchanges in urban areas. The degree of complexity included in the models is outlined and impacts on model performance are discussed. During the comparison there have been significant developments in the models with resulting improvements in performance (root-mean-square error falling by up to two-thirds). Evaluation is based on a dataset containing net all-wave radiation, sensible heat, and latent heat flux observations for an industrial area in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The aim of the comparison is twofold: to identify those modeling approaches that minimize the errors in the simulated fluxes of the urban energy balance and to determine the degree of model complexity required for accurate simulations. There is evidence that some classes of models perform better for individual fluxes but no model performs best or worst for all fluxes. In general, the simpler models perform as well as the more complex models based on all statistical measures. Generally the schemes have best overall capability to model net all-wave radiation and least capability to model latent heat flux.

Corresponding author address: Sue Grimmond, Environmental Monitoring and Modelling Group, Department of Geography, King’s College London, London, WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom. Email: sue.grimmond@kcl.ac.uk

Abstract

A large number of urban surface energy balance models now exist with different assumptions about the important features of the surface and exchange processes that need to be incorporated. To date, no comparison of these models has been conducted; in contrast, models for natural surfaces have been compared extensively as part of the Project for Intercomparison of Land-surface Parameterization Schemes. Here, the methods and first results from an extensive international comparison of 33 models are presented. The aim of the comparison overall is to understand the complexity required to model energy and water exchanges in urban areas. The degree of complexity included in the models is outlined and impacts on model performance are discussed. During the comparison there have been significant developments in the models with resulting improvements in performance (root-mean-square error falling by up to two-thirds). Evaluation is based on a dataset containing net all-wave radiation, sensible heat, and latent heat flux observations for an industrial area in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The aim of the comparison is twofold: to identify those modeling approaches that minimize the errors in the simulated fluxes of the urban energy balance and to determine the degree of model complexity required for accurate simulations. There is evidence that some classes of models perform better for individual fluxes but no model performs best or worst for all fluxes. In general, the simpler models perform as well as the more complex models based on all statistical measures. Generally the schemes have best overall capability to model net all-wave radiation and least capability to model latent heat flux.

Corresponding author address: Sue Grimmond, Environmental Monitoring and Modelling Group, Department of Geography, King’s College London, London, WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom. Email: sue.grimmond@kcl.ac.uk

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