Numerical Studies of Urban Planetary Boundary-Layer Structure under Realistic Synoptic Conditions

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  • a Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
  • | b SRI International, Menlo Park, California
  • | c Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
  • | d SRI International, Menlo Park, California
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Abstract

The Pennsylvania State University (PSU)/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) mesoscale model was modified and used to simulate the evolution of meteorological conditions in the vicinity of St. Louis, Missouri, from near sunrise to noon on 25 July 1975. Observations obtained during the METROMEX (Metropolitan Meteorological Experiment) and RAPS (Regional Air Pollution Study) field programs were available for comparison with modeled conditions. The PSU/NCAR model used a nested grid with two-way interaction between the coarse mesh (7.5 km) and the fine mesh (2.5 km), where the fine domain covered the city and its immediate suburban and rural surroundings. Realistic three-dimensionally variable initial and lateral boundary conditions were obtained from the observations so that the numerical experiments could be used for quantitative evaluation of certain urban effects. After simulation of the actual conditions (control experiment), the importance of a number of processes on the urban planetary boundary layer (PBL) structure were investigated. The PBL effects were isolated by using realistic surface parameters as well as those based on the preurban conditions and an expanded urban environment. Sensitivities to surface evaporative fluxes, radiative processes, and different surface roughness associated with urbanization were examined. The control simulations of the temperature, boundary layer depth, specific humidity and wind fields exhibited essentially the same behavior as observed in the urban PBL throughout the morning forecast period. Unlike many other documented cases that displayed strong urban-induced low-level convergence, the confluence on this morning was relatively weak, with the center of the heat island displaced (in both the simulation and the observations) downwind (south) of the city. A relative minimum in windspeed was associated with the center of the displaced heat island. The sensitivity experiments clearly demonstrated and maintenance of the urban PBL perturbation.

Abstract

The Pennsylvania State University (PSU)/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) mesoscale model was modified and used to simulate the evolution of meteorological conditions in the vicinity of St. Louis, Missouri, from near sunrise to noon on 25 July 1975. Observations obtained during the METROMEX (Metropolitan Meteorological Experiment) and RAPS (Regional Air Pollution Study) field programs were available for comparison with modeled conditions. The PSU/NCAR model used a nested grid with two-way interaction between the coarse mesh (7.5 km) and the fine mesh (2.5 km), where the fine domain covered the city and its immediate suburban and rural surroundings. Realistic three-dimensionally variable initial and lateral boundary conditions were obtained from the observations so that the numerical experiments could be used for quantitative evaluation of certain urban effects. After simulation of the actual conditions (control experiment), the importance of a number of processes on the urban planetary boundary layer (PBL) structure were investigated. The PBL effects were isolated by using realistic surface parameters as well as those based on the preurban conditions and an expanded urban environment. Sensitivities to surface evaporative fluxes, radiative processes, and different surface roughness associated with urbanization were examined. The control simulations of the temperature, boundary layer depth, specific humidity and wind fields exhibited essentially the same behavior as observed in the urban PBL throughout the morning forecast period. Unlike many other documented cases that displayed strong urban-induced low-level convergence, the confluence on this morning was relatively weak, with the center of the heat island displaced (in both the simulation and the observations) downwind (south) of the city. A relative minimum in windspeed was associated with the center of the displaced heat island. The sensitivity experiments clearly demonstrated and maintenance of the urban PBL perturbation.

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