Natural Hazards

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 257–271 | Cite as

Development of a parameterization for simulating the urban temperature hazard using satellite observations in climate model

  • Menglin JinEmail author
  • J. Marshall Shepherd
  • Christa Peters-Lidard
Original Paper


Urban surface temperature is hazardously higher than surrounding regions (so-called urban heat island effect UHI). Accurately simulating urbanization-induced temperature hazard is critical for realistically representing urban regions in the land surface-atmosphere climate system. However, inclusion of urban landscapes in regional or global climate models has been overlooked due to the coarse spatial resolution of these models as well as the lack of observations for urban physical properties. Recently, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth Observing System (EOS) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations illustrate important urban physical properties, including skin temperature, surface albedo, surface emissivity, and leaf area index, It is possible to identify the unique urban features globally and thus simulate global urban processes. An urban scheme is designed to represent the urban-modified physical parameters (albedo, emissivity, land cover, roughness length, thermal and hydraulic properties) and to include new, unique physical processes that exist in urban regions. The urban scheme is coupled with National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Land Model Version 2 (CLM2) and single column coupled NCAR Community Atmosphere Model CAM2/CLM2 to assess the mechanisms responsible for UHI. There are two-steps in our model development. First, satellite observations of albedo, emissivity, LAI, and in situ observed thermal properties are updated in CLM2 to represent the first-order urban effects. Second, new terms representing the urban anthropogenic heat flux, storage heat flux, and roughness length are calculated in the model. Model simulations suggest that human activity-induced surface temperature hazard results in overlying atmosphere instability and convective rainfall, which may enhance the possibility of urban flood hazard.


Urban system Surface temperature hazard Climate modeling 



We thank the Year 2003 NASA GSFC DDF, EOSIDS. and the TRMM program for supporting the initial study of this work. We also thank Robert E. Dickinson for extremely useful discussion on urban roughness length. Thanks go to our NASA Academy summer student, Mr. Miguel Roman-Colon, who helped assess early versions of the MODIS products.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Menglin Jin
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Marshall Shepherd
    • 2
  • Christa Peters-Lidard
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of MeteorologyUniversity of Maryland, College ParkGreenbeltUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography, Atmospheric Sciences Program, Physical Meteorologist/ClimatologistThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Hydrological Sciences BranchGoddard Space Flight Center, NASAGreenbeltUSA

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