Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 17–30 | Cite as

Urban impacts on precipitation

  • Ji-Young Han
  • Jong-Jin BaikEmail author
  • Hyunho Lee


Weather and climate changes caused by human activities (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and urbanization) have received much attention because of their impacts on human lives as well as scientific interests. The detection, understanding, and future projection of weather and climate changes due to urbanization are important subjects in the discipline of urban meteorology and climatology. This article reviews urban impacts on precipitation. Observational studies of changes in convective phenomena over and around cities are reviewed, with focus on precipitation enhancement downwind of cities. The proposed causative factors (urban heat island, large surface roughness, and higher aerosol concentration) and mechanisms of urban-induced and/or urban-modified precipitation are then reviewed and discussed, with focus on downwind precipitation enhancement. A universal mechanism of urban-induced precipitation is made through a thorough literature review and is as follows. The urban heat island produces updrafts on the leeward or downwind side of cities, and the urban heat island-induced updrafts initiate moist convection under favorable thermodynamic conditions, thus leading to surface precipitation. Surface precipitation is likely to further increase under higher aerosol concentrations if the air humidity is high and deep and strong convection occurs. It is not likely that larger urban surface roughness plays a major role in urbaninduced precipitation. Larger urban surface roughness can, however, disrupt or bifurcate precipitating convective systems formed outside cities while passing over the cities. Such urban-modified precipitating systems can either increase or decrease precipitation over and/or downwind of cities. Much effort is needed for in-depth or new understanding of urban precipitation anomalies, which includes local and regional modeling studies using advanced numerical models and analysis studies of long-term radar data.


Urban impacts precipitation urban heat island surface roughness aerosols urbanization 


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Copyright information

© Korean Meteorological Society and Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Korea Institute of Atmospheric Prediction SystemsSeoulKorea
  2. 2.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesSeoul National UniversityGwanakgu, SeoulKorea

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