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James Brownlee, Pallav Ray, Mukul Tewari, and Haochen Tan


Numerical simulations without hydrological processes tend to overestimate the near-surface temperatures over urban areas. This is presumably due to underestimation of surface latent heat flux. To test this hypothesis, the existing single-layer urban canopy model (SLUCM) within the Weather Research and Forecasting Model is evaluated over Houston, Texas. Three simulations were conducted during 24–26 August 2000. The simulations include the use of the default “BULK” urban scheme, the SLUCM without hydrological processes, and the SLUCM with hydrological processes. The results show that the BULK scheme was least accurate, and it overestimated the near-surface temperatures and winds over the urban regions. In the presence of urban hydrological processes, the SLUCM underestimates these parameters. An analysis of the surface heat fluxes suggests that the error in the BULK scheme is due to a lack of moisture at the urban surface, whereas the error in the SLUCM with hydrological processes is due to increases in moisture at the urban surface. These results confirm earlier studies in which changes in near-surface temperature were primarily due to the changes in the turbulent (latent and sensible heat) fluxes in the presence of hydrological processes. The contribution from radiative flux was about one-third of that from turbulent flux. In the absence of hydrological processes, however, the results indicate that the changes in radiative flux contribute more to the near-surface temperature changes than the turbulent heat flux. The implications of these results are discussed.

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Pallav Ray, Haochen Tan, Mukul Tewari, James Brownlee, R. S. Ajayamohan, and Bradford S. Barrett


The role of advection of heat and momentum on the evolution of near-surface temperature and wind is evaluated in urban-aware simulations over Houston, Texas, under dry conditions on a light-wind day. Two sets of experiments, each consisting of four simulations using different planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes, were conducted over 48 h using the default urban scheme (BULK) and the single-layer urban canopy model (SLUCM) available within the Weather Research and Forecasting Model. We focus on understanding and quantifying the role played by temperature and momentum advection, particularly on the windward and leeward sides of the city. Previous studies have largely ignored any quantitative analysis of impacts from the advection of momentum over an urban area. The horizontal advection of temperature was found to be more important in the BULK because of the larger surface temperature gradient caused by warmer surface temperatures over urban areas than in the SLUCM. An analysis of the momentum budget shows that horizontal advection of zonal and meridional momentum plays a prominent role during the period of peak near-surface winds and that this effect is more pronounced in the windward side of the city. The local tendency in peak winds in the leeward side lags that in the windward side by about 1–2 h, similar to the lag found in horizontal momentum advection. The sensitivity of the results to different urban and PBL schemes was explored. The results imply that representation and influence of land-use patterns via sophisticated urban parameterizations generate locally driven winds that best resemble observations.

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