Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 147, Issue 3, pp 493–523 | Cite as

High Resolution Simulation of the Variability of Surface Energy Balance Fluxes Across Central London with Urban Zones for Energy Partitioning

  • Thomas Loridan
  • Fredrik Lindberg
  • Oriol Jorba
  • Simone Kotthaus
  • Susanne Grossman-Clarke
  • C. S. B. Grimmond


The parameterization of surface heat-flux variability in urban areas relies on adequate representation of surface characteristics. Given the horizontal resolutions (e.g. \(\approx \)0.1–1 km) currently used in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, properties of the urban surface (e.g. vegetated/built surfaces, street-canyon geometries) often have large spatial variability. Here, a new approach based on Urban Zones to characterize Energy partitioning (UZE) is tested within a NWP model (Weather Research and Forecasting model; WRF v3.2.1) for Greater London. The urban land-surface scheme is the Noah/Single-Layer Urban Canopy Model (SLUCM). Detailed surface information (horizontal resolution 1 km) in central London shows that the UZE offers better characterization of surface properties and their variability compared to default WRF-SLUCM input parameters. In situ observations of the surface energy fluxes and near-surface meteorological variables are used to select the radiation and turbulence parameterization schemes and to evaluate the land-surface scheme and choice of surface parameters. For radiative fluxes, improved performance (e.g. \(>\)25 W m\(^{-2}\) root-mean-square error reduction for the net radiation) is attained with UZE parameters compared to the WRF v3.2.1 default for all three methods from the simplest to the most detailed. The UZE-based spatial fluxes reproduce a priori expectations of greater energy storage and less evaporation in the dense city centre compared to the residential surroundings. Problems in Noah/SLUCM partitioning of energy between the daytime turbulent fluxes are identified with the overestimation of the turbulent sensible heat and underestimation of the turbulent latent heat fluxes.


Land-surface parameterization London Spatial variability Urban canopy model Urban energy fluxes Urban Zones for Energy partitioning Weather Research and Forecasting model 



We wish to express our thanks to NERC/ARSF (GB08/19) and Matthew Thomas (GLA) for the spatial datasets; all those who contributed to the measurements at King’s College London; Nutthida Kitwiroon (ERG) for the discussion about WRF model runs; and for the financial support provided by the US NSF ATM-071031, EUF7 BRIDGE (211345), NERC ClearfLO (NE/H003231/1); and for travel and living expenses for time spent at BSC provided by a High Performance Computing (HPC) Europa2 Transnational Access Award. Note the UZE parameter table (called URBPARM_UZE.TBL) is available when downloading WRF model software (since version 3.4, April 6 2012).

Supplementary material

10546_2013_9797_MOESM1_ESM.docx (221 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (docx 221 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Loridan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fredrik Lindberg
    • 1
    • 3
  • Oriol Jorba
    • 4
  • Simone Kotthaus
    • 1
  • Susanne Grossman-Clarke
    • 5
    • 6
  • C. S. B. Grimmond
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesRisk Management Solutions, RMSLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  4. 4.Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC)BarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Global Institute of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  6. 6.Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany

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