An Observational and Modeling Study of Characteristics of Urban Heat Island and Boundary Layer Structures in Beijing

Shiguang Miao; Fei Chen; LeMone, Margaret A.; Mukul Tewari; Qingchun Li; Yingchun Wang
March 2009
Journal of Applied Meteorology & Climatology;Mar2009, Vol. 48 Issue 3, p484
Academic Journal
In this paper, the characteristics of urban heat island (UHI) and boundary layer structures in the Beijing area, China, are analyzed using conventional and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model coupled with a single-layer urban canopy model (UCM) is used to simulate these urban weather features for comparison with observations. WRF is also used to test the sensitivity of model simulations to different urban land use scenarios and urban building structures to investigate the impacts of urbanization on surface weather and boundary layer structures. Results show that the coupled WRF/Noah/UCM modeling system seems to be able to reproduce the following observed features reasonably well: 1) the diurnal variation of UHI intensity; 2) the spatial distribution of UHI in Beijing; 3) the diurnal variation of wind speed and direction, and interactions between mountain–valley circulations and UHI; 4) small-scale boundary layer convective rolls and cells; and 5) the nocturnal boundary layer lower-level jet. The statistical analyses reveal that urban canopy variables (e.g., temperature, wind speed) from WRF/Noah/UCM compare better with surface observations than the conventional variables (e.g., 2-m temperature, 10-m wind speed). Both observations and the model show that the airflow over Beijing is dominated by mountain–valley flows that are modified by urban–rural circulations. Sensitivity tests imply that the presence or absence of urban surfaces significantly impacts the formation of horizontal convective rolls (HCRs), and the details in urban structures seem to have less pronounced but not negligible effects on HCRs.


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