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Liang Wang and Dan Li

Abstract

In this study, we simulate the magnitude of urban heat islands (UHIs) during heat wave (HWs) in two cities with contrasting climates (Boston, Massachusetts, and Phoenix, Arizona) using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and quantify their drivers with a newly developed attribution method. During the daytime, a surface UHI (SUHI) is found in Boston, which is mainly caused by the higher urban surface resistance that reduces the latent heat flux and the higher urban aerodynamic resistance r a that inhibits convective heat transfer between the urban surface and the lower atmosphere. In contrast, a daytime surface urban cool island is found in Phoenix, which is mainly due to the lower urban r a that facilitates convective heat transfer. In terms of near-surface air UHI (AUHI), there is almost no daytime AUHI in either city. At night, an SUHI and an AUHI are identified in Boston that are due to the stronger release of heat storage in urban areas. In comparison, the lower urban r a in Phoenix enhances convective heat transfer from the atmosphere to the urban surface at night, leading to a positive SUHI but no AUHI. Our study highlights that the magnitude of UHIs or urban cool islands is strongly controlled by urban–rural differences in terms of aerodynamic features, vegetation and moisture conditions, and heat storage, which show contrasting characteristics in different regions.

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Dan Li and Elie Bou-Zeid

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Cities are well known to be hotter than the rural areas that surround them; this phenomenon is called the urban heat island. Heat waves are excessively hot periods during which the air temperatures of both urban and rural areas increase significantly. However, whether urban and rural temperatures respond in the same way to heat waves remains a critical unanswered question. In this study, a combination of observational and modeling analyses indicates synergies between urban heat islands and heat waves. That is, not only do heat waves increase the ambient temperatures, but they also intensify the difference between urban and rural temperatures. As a result, the added heat stress in cities will be even higher than the sum of the background urban heat island effect and the heat wave effect. Results presented here also attribute this added impact of heat waves on urban areas to the lack of surface moisture in urban areas and the low wind speed associated with heat waves. Given that heat waves are projected to become more frequent and that urban populations are substantially increasing, these findings underline the serious heat-related health risks facing urban residents in the twenty-first century. Adaptation and mitigation strategies will require joint efforts to reinvent the city, allowing for more green spaces and lesser disruption of the natural water cycle.

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Peng Ji, Xing Yuan, and Dan Li

Abstract

The Tibetan Plateau (TP), known as the world’s “Third Pole,” plays a vital role in regulating the regional and global climate and provides freshwater for about 1.5 billion people. Observations show an accelerated ground surface warming trend over the southeastern TP during the global warming slowdown period of 1998–2013, especially in the summer and winter seasons. The processes responsible for such acceleration are under debate as contributions from different radiative processes are still unknown. Here we estimate for the first time the contributions of each radiative component to the ground surface warming trend before and after 1998 by analyzing multisource datasets under an energy balance framework. Results show that declining cloud cover caused by the weakening of both the South Asian summer monsoon and local-scale atmospheric upward motion mainly led to the accelerated ground surface warming during the summers of 1998–2013, whereas the decreased surface albedo caused by the snow melting was the major warming factor in winter. Moreover, increased clear-sky longwave radiation induced by the warming middle and upper troposphere was the second largest factor, contributing to about 21%–48% of the ground surface warming trend in both the summer and winter seasons. Our results unravel the key processes driving the ground surface warming over the southeastern TP and have implications for the development of climate and Earth system models in simulating ground surface temperature change and other related complex cryosphere–hydrosphere–atmosphere interactions over high-altitude land areas.

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Dan Li, Gabriel G. Katul, and Sergej S. Zilitinkevich

Abstract

Cospectral budgets are used to link the kinetic and potential energy distributions of turbulent eddies, as measured by their spectra, to macroscopic relations between the turbulent Prandtl number (Prt) and atmospheric stability measures such as the stability parameter ζ, the gradient Richardson number R g, or the flux Richardson number R f in the atmospheric surface layer. The dependence of Prt on ζ, R g, or R f is shown to be primarily controlled by the ratio of Kolmogorov and Kolmogorov–Obukhov–Corrsin phenomenological constants and a constant associated with isotropization of turbulent flux production that can be independently determined using rapid distortion theory in homogeneous turbulence. Changes in scaling laws of the vertical velocity and air temperature spectra are also shown to affect the Prtζ (or PrtR g or PrtR f) relation. Results suggest that departure of Prt from unity under neutral conditions is induced by dissimilarity between momentum and heat in terms of Rotta constants, isotropization constants, and constants in the flux transfer terms. A maximum flux Richardson number R fm predicted from the cospectral budgets method (=0.25) is in good agreement with values in the literature, suggesting that R fm may be tied to the collapse of Kolmogorov spectra instead of laminarization of turbulent flows under stable stratification. The linkages between microscale energy distributions of turbulent eddies and macroscopic relations that are principally determined by dimensional considerations or similarity theories suggest that when these scalewise energy distributions of eddies experience a “transition” to other distributions (e.g., when R f is increased over R fm), dimensional considerations or similarity theories may fail to predict bulk flow properties.

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Dan Li, Ting Sun, Maofeng Liu, Linlin Wang, and Zhiqiu Gao

Abstract

The interaction between urban heat islands (UHIs) and heat waves (HWs) is studied using measurements collected at two towers in the Beijing, China, metropolitan area and an analytical model. Measurements show that 1) the positive interaction between UHIs and HWs not only exists at the surface but also persists to higher levels (up to ~70 m) and 2) the urban wind speed is enhanced by HWs during daytime but reduced during nighttime as compared with its rural counterpart. A steady-state advection–diffusion model coupled to the surface energy balance equation is then employed to understand the implication of changes in wind speed on UHIs, which reveals that the observed changes in wind speed positively contribute to the interaction between UHIs and HWs in both daytime and nighttime. The vertical structure of the positive interaction between UHIs and HWs is thus likely an outcome resulting from a combination of changes in the surface energy balance and wind profile.

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Pengyuan Li, Gang Fu, Chungu Lu, Dan Fu, and Shuai Wang

Abstract

In this paper, a dense sea fog event that occurred over the Yellow Sea (YS) on 9 March 2005 is investigated using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model version 3.1.1 (WRF v3.1.1). It is shown that the WRF can reasonably reproduce the main features of this fog case with a newly implemented planetary boundary layer (PBL) scheme developed by Mellor–Yamada–Nakanishi–Niino (MYNN). The low-level jet (LLJ) associated with this fog episode played an important role in triggering the turbulence. During the fog formation, sea fog extended vertically with the aid of turbulence. The mechanical production term resulting from wind shear contributed to the generation of the turbulence. WRF simulation results showed that the fog layer was thicker in the northeastern part of the YS than that in the southwestern part due to the intensity of the inversion layer and the LLJ. The topography test in which the mountain region in Fujian Province was removed showed that the roles of topography were to prevent the moisture from extending to land, to intensify the inversion layer, and to enhance the intensity of LLJ, as well as to elevate its altitude.

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Dan Li, Gabriel G. Katul, and Sergej S. Zilitinkevich

Abstract

Two recently proposed turbulence closure schemes are compared against the conventional Mellor–Yamada (MY) model for stably stratified atmospheric flows. The Energy- and Flux-Budget (EFB) approach solves the budgets of turbulent momentum and heat fluxes and turbulent kinetic and potential energies. The Cospectral Budget (CSB) approach is formulated in wavenumber space and integrated across all turbulent scales to obtain flow variables in physical space. Unlike the MY model, which is subject to a “critical gradient Richardson number,” both EFB and CSB models allow turbulence to exist at any gradient Richardson number and predict a saturation of flux Richardson number () at sufficiently large . The CSB approach further predicts the value of and reveals a unique expression linking the Rotta and von Kármán constants. Hence, all constants in the CSB model are nontunable and stability independent. All models agree that the dimensionless sensible heat flux decays with increasing . However, the decay rate and subsequent cutoff in the MY model appear abrupt. The MY model further exhibits an abrupt cutoff in the turbulent stress normalized by vertical velocity variance, while the CSB and EFB models display increasing trends. The EFB model produces a rapid increase in the ratio of turbulent potential energy and vertical velocity variance as is approached, suggesting a strong self-preservation mechanism. Vertical anisotropy in the turbulent kinetic energy is parameterized in different ways in MY and EFB, but this consideration is not required in CSB. Differences between EFB and CSB model predictions originate from how the vertical anisotropy is specified in the EFB model.

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Liang Wang, Dan Li, Ning Zhang, Jianning Sun, and Weidong Guo

Abstract

Urban heat islands (UHIs) are caused by a multitude of changes induced by urbanization. However, the relative importance of biophysical and atmospheric factors in controlling the UHI intensity remains elusive. In this study, we quantify the magnitude of surface UHIs (SUHIs), or surface urban cool islands (SUCIs), and elucidate their biophysical and atmospheric drivers on the basis of observational data collected from one urban site and two rural grassland sites in and near the city of Nanjing, China. Results show that during the daytime a strong SUCI effect is observed when the short grassland site is used as the reference site whereas a moderate SUHI effect is observed when the tall grassland is used as the reference site. We find that the former is mostly caused by the lower aerodynamic resistance for convective heat transfer at the urban site and the latter is primarily caused by the higher surface resistance for evapotranspiration at the urban site. At night, SUHIs are observed when either the short or the tall grassland site is used as the reference site and are predominantly caused by the stronger release of heat storage at the urban site. In general, the magnitude of SUHI is much weaker, and even becomes SUCI during daytime, with the short grassland site being the reference site because of its larger aerodynamic resistance. The study highlights that the magnitude of SUHIs and SUCIs is mostly controlled by urban–rural differences of biophysical factors, with urban–rural differences of atmospheric conditions playing a minor role.

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Xiaozhen Xiong, Dan Lubin, Wei Li, and Knut Stamnes

Abstract

This study examines the validity and limitations associated with retrieval of cloud optical depth τ and effective droplet size r e in the Arctic from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) channels 2 (0.725–1.10 μm), 3 (3.55–3.93 μm), and 4 (10.3–11.3 μm). The error in r e is found to be normally less than 10%, but the uncertainty in τ can be more than 50% for a 10% uncertainty in the satellite-measured radiance. Model simulations show that the satellite-retrieved cloud optical depth τ sat is overestimated by up to 20% if the vertical cloud inhomogeneity is ignored and is underestimated by more than 50% if overlap of cirrus and liquid water clouds is ignored. Under partially cloudy conditions, τ sat is larger than that derived from surface-measured downward solar irradiance (τ surf) by 40%–130%, depending on cloud-cover fraction. Here, τ sat derived from NOAA-14 AVHRR data agrees well with τ surf derived from surface measurements of solar irradiance at the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) ice camp in summer, but τ sat is about 2.3 times τ surf before the onset of snowmelt. This overestimate of τ sat is mainly due to the high reflectivity in AVHRR channel 2 over snow/ice surfaces, the presence of partial cloud cover, and inaccurate representation of the scattering phase function for mixed-phase clouds.

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Tirtha Banerjee, Dan Li, Jehn-Yih Juang, and Gabriel Katul

Abstract

A spectral budget model is developed to describe the scaling behavior of the longitudinal turbulent velocity variance with the stability parameter and the normalized height in an idealized stably stratified atmospheric surface layer (ASL), where z is the height from the surface, L is the Obukhov length, and δ is the boundary layer height. The proposed framework employs Kolmogorov’s hypothesis for describing the shape of the longitudinal velocity spectra in the inertial subrange, Heisenberg’s eddy viscosity as a closure for the pressure redistribution and turbulent transfer terms, and the Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST) scaling for linking the mean longitudinal velocity and temperature profiles to ζ. At a given friction velocity , reduces with increasing ζ as expected. The model is consistent with the disputed z-less stratification when the stability correction function for momentum increases with increasing ζ linearly or as a power law with the exponent exceeding unity. For the Businger–Dyer stability correction function for momentum, which varies linearly with ζ, the limit of the z-less onset is . The proposed framework explains why does not follow MOST scaling even when the mean velocity and temperature profiles may follow MOST in the ASL. It also explains how δ ceases to be a scaling variable in more strongly stable (although well-developed turbulent) ranges.

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