Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 357–397

A Physically-Based Scheme For The Urban Energy Budget In Atmospheric Models

  • Valéry Masson

DOI: 10.1023/A:1002463829265

Cite this article as:
Masson, V. Boundary-Layer Meteorology (2000) 94: 357. doi:10.1023/A:1002463829265


An urban surface scheme for atmospheric mesoscale models ispresented. A generalization of local canyon geometry isdefined instead of the usual bare soil formulation currently usedto represent cities in atmospheric models. This allows refinement ofthe radiative budgets as well as momentum, turbulent heat and ground fluxes.The scheme is aimed to be as general as possible, in order to representany city in the world, for any time or weather condition(heat island cooling by night, urban wake, water evaporation after rainfalland snow effects).

Two main parts of the scheme are validated against published data.Firstly, it is shown that the evolution of the model-predictedfluxes during a night with calm winds is satisfactory, considering both the longwave budget and the surface temperatures. Secondly, the original shortwave scheme is tested off-line and compared to the effective albedoof a canyon scale model. These two validations show that the radiative energy input to the urban surface model is realistic.

Sensitivity tests of the model are performed for one-yearsimulation periods, for both oceanic and continental climates. The scheme has the ability to retrieve, without ad hoc assumptions, the diurnal hysteresis between the turbulent heat flux and ground heat flux. It reproduces the damping of the daytime turbulent heat flux by the heat storage flux observed in city centres. The latent heat flux is negligible on average,but can be large when short time scales are considered (especially afterrainfall). It also suggests that in densely built areas, domesticheating can overwhelm the net radiation, and supply a continuous turbulentheat flux towards the atmosphere. This becomes very important inwinter for continental climates. Finally, a comparison with a vegetation scheme shows that the suburban environment can be represented with a bare soil formulation for large temporal or spatial averages (typical of globalclimatic studies), but that a surface scheme dedicated to the urban surface is necessary when smaller scales are considered: town meteorological forecasts, mesoscale or local studies.

Surface schemeUrban CanyonUrban energy balanceUrban water balanceUrban boundary layer

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valéry Masson
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre National de Recherches MétéorologiquesToulouseFrance