Impact of the Urban Heat Island Effect on Precipitation over a Complex Geographic Environment in Northern Taiwan

Chuan-Yao Lin Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

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Wan-Chin Chen Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

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Pao-Liang Chang Central Weather Bureau, Taipei, Taiwan

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Yang-Fan Sheng Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

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Abstract

To evaluate the impacts of the urban heat island (UHI) effect on precipitation over a complex geographic environment in northern Taiwan, the next-generation mesoscale model, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, coupled with the Noah land surface model and urban canopy model (UCM), was used to study this issue. Based on a better land use classification derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data (the MODIS case), it has significantly improved simulation results for the accumulation rainfall pattern as compared with the original U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 25-category land use classification (the USGS case). The precipitation system was found to develop later but stronger in the urban (MODIS) case than in the nonurban (USGS) case. In comparison with the observation by radar, simulation results predicted reasonably well; not only was the rainfall system enhanced downwind of the city over the mountainous area, but it also occurred at the upwind plain area in the MODIS case. The simulation results suggested that the correct land use classification is crucial for urban heat island modeling study. The UHI effect plays an important role in perturbing thermal and dynamic processes; it affects the location of thunderstorms and precipitation over the complex geographic environment in northern Taiwan.

Corresponding author address: Chuan Yao Lin, Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, No. 128, Sec. 2, Academia Rd., Taipei 115, Taiwan. Email: yao435@rcec.sinica.edu.tw

Abstract

To evaluate the impacts of the urban heat island (UHI) effect on precipitation over a complex geographic environment in northern Taiwan, the next-generation mesoscale model, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, coupled with the Noah land surface model and urban canopy model (UCM), was used to study this issue. Based on a better land use classification derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data (the MODIS case), it has significantly improved simulation results for the accumulation rainfall pattern as compared with the original U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 25-category land use classification (the USGS case). The precipitation system was found to develop later but stronger in the urban (MODIS) case than in the nonurban (USGS) case. In comparison with the observation by radar, simulation results predicted reasonably well; not only was the rainfall system enhanced downwind of the city over the mountainous area, but it also occurred at the upwind plain area in the MODIS case. The simulation results suggested that the correct land use classification is crucial for urban heat island modeling study. The UHI effect plays an important role in perturbing thermal and dynamic processes; it affects the location of thunderstorms and precipitation over the complex geographic environment in northern Taiwan.

Corresponding author address: Chuan Yao Lin, Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, No. 128, Sec. 2, Academia Rd., Taipei 115, Taiwan. Email: yao435@rcec.sinica.edu.tw

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