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Julie K. Lundquist and Stevens T. Chan

Abstract

The validity of omitting stability considerations when simulating transport and dispersion in the urban environment is explored using observations from the Joint Urban 2003 field experiment and computational fluid dynamics simulations of that experiment. Four releases of sulfur hexafluoride, during two daytime and two nighttime intensive observing periods (IOPs), are simulated using the building-resolving computational fluid dynamics model called the Finite Element Model in 3-Dimensions and Massively Parallelized (FEM3MP) to solve the Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes equations with two options of turbulence parameterizations. One option omits stability effects but has a superior turbulence parameterization using a nonlinear eddy viscosity (NEV) approach, and the other considers buoyancy effects with a simple linear eddy viscosity approach for turbulence parameterization. Model performance metrics are calculated by comparison with observed winds and tracer data in the downtown area and with observed winds and turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) profiles at a location immediately downwind of the central business district in the area labeled as the urban shadow. Model predictions of winds, concentrations, profiles of wind speed, wind direction, and friction velocity are generally consistent with and compare reasonably well to the field observations. Simulations using the NEV turbulence parameterization generally exhibit better agreement with observations. To explore further the assumption of a neutrally stable atmosphere within the urban area, TKE budget profiles slightly downwind of the urban wake region in the urban shadow are examined. Dissipation and shear production are the largest terms that may be calculated directly. The advection of TKE is calculated as a residual; as would be expected downwind of an urban area, the advection of TKE produced within the urban area is a very large term. Buoyancy effects may be neglected in favor of advection, shear production, and dissipation. For three of the IOPs, buoyancy production may be neglected entirely; for one IOP, buoyancy production contributes approximately 25% of the total TKE at this location. For both nighttime releases, the contribution of buoyancy to the total TKE budget is always negligible though positive. Results from the simulations provide estimates of the average TKE values in the upwind, downtown, downtown shadow, and urban wake zones of the computational domain. These values suggest that building-induced turbulence can cause the average turbulence intensity in the urban area to increase by as much as 7 times average upwind values, explaining the minimal role of buoyant forcing in the downtown region. The downtown shadow exhibits an exponential decay in average TKE, whereas the distant downwind wake region approaches the average upwind values. For long-duration releases in downtown and downtown shadow areas, the assumption of neutral stability is valid because building-induced turbulence dominates the budget. However, farther downwind in the urban wake region, which is found to be approximately 1500 m beyond the perimeter of downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the levels of building-induced turbulence greatly subside, and therefore the assumption of neutral stability is less valid.

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Stevens T. Chan and Martin J. Leach

Abstract

Under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model for simulating airflow and dispersion of chemical/biological agents released in urban areas has recently been developed. This model, the Finite Element Model in 3-Dimensions and Massively Parallelized (FEM3MP), is based on solving the three-dimensional, time-dependent Navier–Stokes equations with appropriate physics submodels on massively parallel computer platforms. It employs finite-element discretization for effective treatment of complex geometries and a semi-implicit projection scheme for efficient time integration. A simplified CFD approach, using both explicitly resolved and virtual buildings, was implemented to improve further the model’s efficiency. Results from our model are continuously being verified against measured data from wind-tunnel and field studies. Herein, this model is further evaluated using observed data from intensive operation periods (IOP) 3 and 9 of the Joint Urban 2003 field study conducted in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in July 2003. The model simulations of wind and concentration fields in the near and intermediate regions, as well as profiles of wind speed, wind direction, friction velocity, and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) in the urban wake region, are generally consistent with and compared reasonably well to field observations. In addition, this model was able to reproduce the observed split plume of IOP 3 and the end vortices along Park Avenue in IOP 9. The dispersion results and TKE profiles at the crane station indicate that the effects of convective mixing are relatively important for the daytime release of IOP 3 but that the stable effects are relatively unimportant for the nighttime release of IOP 9. Results of this study also suggest that the simplified CFD approach implemented in FEM3MP can be a cost-effective tool for simulating urban dispersion problems.

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Steven E. Gaines, Stuart W. Bowen, R. Stephen Hipskind, T. Paul Bui, and K. Roland Chan

Abstract

Measurements of aircraft longitude, latitude, and velocity, and measurements of atmospheric pressure, temperature, and horizontal wind from the meteorological measurement system (MMS) on board the NASA ER-2 aircraft were compared with independent measurements of these quantities from radiosondes and radar tracking of both the ER-2 and radiosonde balloons. In general, the comparisons were good and within the expected measurement accuracy and natural variability of the meteorological parameters.

Radar tracking of the ER-2 resolved the velocity and position drift of the inertial navigation system (INS). The rms errors in the horizontal velocity components of the ER-2, due to INS errors, were found to be 0.5 m s−1. The magnitude of the drift in longitude and latitude depends on the sign and magnitude of the corresponding component velocity drift and can be a few hundredths of a degree.

The radar altitudes of the ER-2 and radiosondes were used as the basis for comparing measurements of atmospheric pressure, temperature, and horizontal wind from these two platforms. The uncertainty in the MMS horizontal wind measurement is estimated to be ±2.5 m s−1. The accuracy of the MMS pressure and temperature measurements were inferred to be ±0.3 hPa and ±0.3 K.

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Steven C. Chan, Elizabeth J. Kendon, Hayley J. Fowler, Stephen Blenkinsop, Nigel M. Roberts, and Christopher A. T. Ferro

Abstract

Extreme value theory is used as a diagnostic for two high-resolution (12-km parameterized convection and 1.5-km explicit convection) Met Office regional climate model (RCM) simulations. On subdaily time scales, the 12-km simulation has weaker June–August (JJA) short-return-period return levels than the 1.5-km RCM, yet the 12-km RCM has overly large high return levels. Comparisons with observations indicate that the 1.5-km RCM is more successful than the 12-km RCM in representing (multi)hourly JJA very extreme events. As accumulation periods increase toward daily time scales, the erroneous 12-km precipitation extremes become more comparable with the observations and the 1.5-km RCM. The 12-km RCM fails to capture the observed low sensitivity of the growth rate to accumulation period changes, which is successfully captured by the 1.5-km RCM. Both simulations have comparable December–February (DJF) extremes, but the DJF extremes are generally weaker than in JJA at daily or shorter time scales. Case studies indicate that “gridpoint storms” are one of the causes of unrealistic very extreme events in the 12-km RCM. Caution is needed in interpreting the realism of 12-km RCM JJA extremes, including short-return-period events, which have return values closer to observations. There is clear evidence that the 1.5-km RCM has a higher degree of realism than the 12-km RCM in the simulation of JJA extremes.

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Steven R. Hanna, Michael J. Brown, Fernando E. Camelli, Stevens T. Chan, William J. Coirier, Olav R. Hansen, Alan H. Huber, Sura Kim, and R. Michael Reynolds

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model simulations of urban boundary layers have improved in speed and accuracy so that they are useful in assisting in planning emergency response activities related to releases of chemical or biological agents into the atmosphere in large cities such as New York, New York. In this paper, five CFD models [CFD-Urban, Finite Element Flow (FEFLO), Finite Element Model in 3D and Massively-Parallel version (FEM3MP), FLACS, and FLUENT–Environmental Protection Agency (FLUENT-EPA)] have been applied to the same 3D building data and geographic domain in Manhattan, using approximately the same wind input conditions. Wind flow observations are available from the Madison Square Garden 2005 (MSG05) field experiment. Plots of the CFD models' simulations and the observations of near-surface wind fields lead to the qualitative conclusion that the models generally agree with each other and with field observations over most parts of the computational domain, within typical atmospheric uncertainties of a factor of 2. The results are useful to emergency responders, suggesting, for example, that transport of a release at street level in a large city could extend for a few blocks in the upwind and crosswind directions. There are still key differences among the models for certain parts of the domain. Further examination of the differences among the models and the observations are necessary in order to understand the causal relationships.

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