The urban environment directly influences Urban Boundary Layer (UBL) dynamics. Commonly proposed heat adaptation strategies focused on reducing the impacts of global change and urban induced warming are also expected to decrease the intensity of convective mixing thereby reducing UBL depth, with important consequences for air pollutant dilution and dispersion. We use 20-km grid spacing Regional Climate Model decadal scale simulations that account for end of twenty-first century greenhouse gas emissions, urban development and intensive and uniform implementation of a suite of heat adaptation strategies, to investigate the individual and combined impacts of such drivers on UBL dynamics over the Continental US (CONUS). Results indicate that combined impacts of climate change and urban development are expected to increase summer (JJA) daytime UBL height in the eastern CONUS. Heat adaptation strategies lead to a summer daytime UBL depth reduction of several hundred meters across CONUS regions, primarily as a consequence of reduced surface sensible heat fluxes and associated turbulence. Our results confirm that heat adaptation is expected to increase the static stability of both daytime and nighttime UBLs and decrease the magnitude of vertical winds, inducing stronger subsidence. In addition, the large geographical scale of our analysis indicates that adaptation impacts are greater inland and smaller over coastal cities. In Southern California, the adaptation induced increase in latent heat can counterbalance the projected decrease in UBL depth. Future work addressing these projected UBL impacts with convection permitting, high-resolution coupled atmosphere-chemistry simulations is needed to explicitly determine potential unintended consequences for urban air quality.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Availability of data and material
Data is available from the lead/corresponding author upon reasonable request.
Analysis MATLAB codes available upon request.
Akbari H, Matthews HD (2012) Global cooling updates: reflective roofs and pavements. Energy Build 55:2–6
Aleksandrowicz O, Vuckovic M, Kiesel K, Mahdavi A (2017) Current trends in urban heat island mitigation research: observations based on a comprehensive research repository. Urban Clim 21:1–26
Barlow JF (2014) Progress in observing and modelling the urban boundary layer. Urban Climate 10:216–240
Bass B, Krayenhoff ES, Martilli A, Stull RB, Auld H (2003) The impact of green roofs on Toronto’s urban heat island. In: Proceedings of Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities
Berrisford P, Dee DP, Poli P, Brugge R, Fielding M, Fuentes M, Kållberg PW, Kobayashi S, Uppala S, Simmons A (2011) The ERA-Interim archive, version 2.0
Bierwagen BG et al (2010) National housing and impervious surface scenarios for integrated climate impact assessments. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:20887–20892
Broadbent AM, Krayenhoff ES, Georgescu M (2020a) The motley drivers of heat and cold exposure in 21st century US cities. In: Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (USA), Accepted
Broadbent AM, Krayenhoff ES, Georgescu M (2020b) Efficacy of cool roofs at reducing pedestrian-level air temperature during projected 21st century heatwaves in Atlanta, Detroit, and Phoenix (USA). Environ Res Lett
Bruinsel L (2020) Urban heat adaptation. Understanding the emergence of institutional barriers for heat adaptation
Burian SJ, Brown MJ, Velugubantla SP (2002) Building height-characteristics in three US cities (No. LA-UR-02-1089). Los Alamos National Laboratory
Cao Q, Yu D, Georgescu M, Wu J, Wang W (2018) Impacts of future urban expansion on summer climate and heat-related human health in eastern China. Environ Int 112:134–146
Census Bureau Regions and Divisions with State FIPS Codes. https://www2.census.gov/geo/pdfs/maps-data/maps/reference/us_regdiv.pdf. Accessed: 13 July 2020
Chen Y, Zhang N (2018) Urban Heat Island Mitigation Effectiveness under Extreme Heat Conditions in the Suzhou–Wuxi–Changzhou Metropolitan Area, China. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 57(2):235–253
Chen F et al (2011) The integrated WRF/urban modelling system: development, evaluation, and applications to urban environmental problems. Int J Climatol 31:273–288
Costanzo V, Evola G, Marletta L (2016) Energy savings in buildings or UHI mitigation? Comparison between green roofs and cool roofs. Energy Build 114:247–255
Ellefsen R (1991) Mapping and measuring buildings in the canopy boundary layer in ten U.S. cities. Energy Build 16(3–4):1025–1049
ENERGY STAR Roof Product List (Energy Star, 2013); https://go.nature.com/2CuhGPn
Georgescu M (2015) Challenges associated with adaptation to future urban expansion. J Clim 28(7):2544–2563
Georgescu M, Morefield PE, Bierwagen BG, Weaver CP (2014) Urban adaptation can roll back warming of emerging megapolitan regions. Proc Natl Acad Sci 111(8):2909–2914
Georgescu M, Broadbent AM, Wang M, Krayenhoff ES, Moustaoui M (2021) Precipitation response to climate change and urban development over the continental United States. Environ Res Lett 16(4):044001. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abd8ac/meta
Gilbert H, Mandel BH, Levinson R (2016) Keeping California cool: recent cool community developments. Energy Build 114:20–26
Gillner S, Vogt J, Tharang A, Dettmann S, Roloff A (2015) Role of street trees in mitigating effects of heat and drought at highly sealed urban sites. Landsc Urban Plan 143:33–42
Hong SY, Pan HL (1996) Nonlocal boundary layer vertical diffusion in a medium-range forecast model. Mon Weather Rev 124(10):2322–2339
Hong SY, Noh Y, Dudhia J (2006) A new vertical diffusion package with an explicit treatment of entrainment processes. Mon Weather Rev 134(9):2318–2341
IPCC (2014): Annex II: Glossary [Agard, J., E.L.F. Schipper, J. Birkmann, M. Campos, C. Dubeux, Y. Nojiri, L. Olsson, B. Osman-Elasha, M. Pelling, M.J. Prather, M.G. Rivera-Ferre, O.C. Ruppel, A. Sallenger, K.R. Smith, A.L. St. Clair, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, and T.E. Bilir (eds.)]. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Barros, V.R., C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1757–1776
Kishtawal CM, Niyogi D, Tewari M, Pielke RA Sr, Shepherd JM (2010) Urbanization signature in the observed heavy rainfall climatology over India. Int J Climatol 30(13):1908–1916
Krayenhoff ES, Christen A, Martilli A, Oke TR (2014) A multi-layer radiation model for urban neighbourhoods with trees. Bound-Layer Meteorol 151(1):139–178
Krayenhoff ES, Moustaoui M, Broadbent AM, Gupta V, Georgescu M (2018) Diurnal interaction between urban expansion, climate change and adaptation in US cities. Nat Clim Change 8(12):1097–1103
Krayenhoff ES, Jiang T, Christen A, Martilli A, Oke TR, Bailey BN, Nazarian N, Voogt JA, Giometto M, Stastny A, Crawford B (2020) A multi-layer urban canopy meteorological model with trees (BEP-Tree): street tree impacts on pedestrian-level climate. Urban Clim 32:100590
Krayenhoff ES, Broadbent AM, Zhao L, Georgescu M, Middel A, Voogt JA, Martilli A, Sailor DJ, Erell E (2021) Cooling hot cities: a systematic and critical review of the numerical modelling literature. Environ Res Lett
Kusaka H, Kimura F (2004) Coupling a single-layer urban canopy model with a simple atmospheric model: Impact on urban heat island simulation for an idealized case. J Meteorol Soc Japan. Ser. II 82(1):67–80
Kusaka H, Kondo H, Kikegawa Y, Kimura F (2001) A simple single-layer urban canopy model for atmospheric models: comparison with multi-layer and slab models. Bound Layer Meteorol 101:329–358
Marshall Shepherd JM (2005) A review of current investigations of urban-induced rainfall and recommendations for the future. Earth Interact 9(12):1–27. https://doi.org/10.1175/EI156.1
Masterton JM, Richardson FA (1979) Humidex: a method of quantifying human discomfort due to excessive heat and humidity. Environment Canada, Atmospheric Environment
Meehl GA, Tebaldi C (2004) More intense, more frequent, and longer lasting heat waves in the 21st century. Science 305(5686):994–997
Monaghan AJ, Steinhoff DF, Bruyere CL, Yates D (2014) NCAR CESM global bias-corrected CMIP5 output to support WRF/MPAS research. In: Research Data Archive at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Computational and Information Systems Laboratory, Boulder, Colo. Accessed, 25(03), 2018
Narita KI, Sugawara H, Honjo T (2008) Effects of roadside trees on the thermal environment within a street canyon. Geogr Rep Tokyo Metrop Univ 43:41–48
Noh Y, Cheon WG, Hong SY, Raasch S (2003) Improvement of the K-profile model for the planetary boundary layer based on large eddy simulation data. Bound-Layer Meteorol 107(2):401–427
Oke TR (1982) The energetic basis of the urban heat island. Q J R Meteorol Soc 108(455):1–24
Pielke RA Sr (2001) Influence of the spatial distribution of vegetation and soils on the prediction of cumulus convective rainfall. Rev Geophys 39(2):151–177
Pielke RA, Avissar R (1990) Influence of landscape structure on local and regional climate. Landscape Ecol 4(2–3):133–155
Sailor DJ (1995) Simulated urban climate response to modifications in surface albedo and vegetative cover. J Appl Meteorol 34(7):1694–1704
Seibert P, Beyrich F, Gryning SE, Joffre S, Rasmussen A, Tercier P (2000) Review and intercomparison of operational methods for the determination of the mixing height. Atmos Environ 34(7):1001–1027
Seidel DJ, Zhang Y, Beljaars A, Golaz JC, Jacobson AR, Medeiros B (2012) Climatology of the planetary boundary layer over the continental United States and Europe. J Geophys Res Atmos 117(D17)
Sharma A, Conry P, Fernando HJS, Hamlet AF, Hellmann JJ, Chen F (2016) Green and cool roofs to mitigate urban heat island effects in the Chicago metropolitan area: evaluation with a regional climate model. Environ Res Lett 11(6):064004
Skamarock WC, Klemp JB, Dudhia J, Gill DO, Barker D, Duda MG, Powers JG (2008) A Description of the Advanced Research WRF Version 3 (No. NCAR/TN-475+STR). University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. https://doi.org/10.5065/D68S4MVH
Solomon S (2007) IPCC (2007): climate change the physical science basis. AGUFM 2007:U43D – U51
Song J, Wang ZH (2016) Diurnal changes in urban boundary layer environment induced by urban greening. Environ Res Lett 11(11):114018
Song J, Wang ZH, Wang C (2018) The regional impact of urban heat mitigation strategies on planetary boundary layer dynamics over a semiarid city. J Geophys Res Atmos 123(12):6410–6422
Stull RB (2012) An introduction to boundary layer meteorology (Vol. 13). Springer Science & Business Media
Synnefa A, Dandou A, Santamouris M, Tombrou M, Soulakellis N (2008) On the use of cool materials as a heat island mitigation strategy. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 47(11):2846–2856
Tewari M, Chen F, Wang W, Dudhia J, LeMone MA, Mitchell K, Ek M, Gayno G, Wegiel J, Cuenca RH (2004) Implementation and verification of the unified NOAH land surface model in the WRF model. In: 20th conference on weather analysis and forecasting/16th conference on numerical weather prediction, pp. 11–15.
U.S. EPA (2010) Integrated Climate and Land-Use Scenarios (Iclus) V1.3 User’s manual: arcgis tools and datasets for modeling US housing density growth. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Von Storch H, Zwiers FW (2001) Statistical analysis in climate research. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Wang C, Wang ZH, Wang C, Myint SW (2019) Environmental cooling provided by urban trees under extreme heat and cold waves in US cities. Remote Sens Environ 227:28–43
Weaver CP, Avissar R (2001) Atmospheric disturbances caused by human modification of the landscape. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 82(2):269–282
Xue Y, Janjic Z, Dudhia J, Vasic R, De Sales F (2014) A review on regional dynamical downscaling in intraseasonal to seasonal simulation/prediction and major factors that affect downscaling ability. Atmos Res 147:68–85
Zhang N, Chen Y, Luo L, Wang Y (2017) Effectiveness of different Urban heat Island mitigation methods and their regional impacts. J Hydrometeorol 18(11):2991–3012. https://doi.org/10.1175/jhm-d-17-0049.1
Zhang C, Wang Y, Xue M (2020) Evaluation of an E─∊ and three other boundary layer parameterization schemes in the WRF model over the Southeast Pacific and the Southern Great Plains. MWRv 148(3):1121–1145
Zilitinkevich SS (2012) The height of the atmospheric planetary boundary layer: State of the art and new development. National security and human health implications of climate change. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 147–161
This work was supported by National Science Foundation Sustainability Research Network Cooperative Agreement 1444758, the Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN). The authors acknowledge the large-scale, high-performance and high-throughput computing support from Research Computing at Arizona State University.
National Science Foundation Sustainability Research Network Cooperative Agreement 1444758, the Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN).
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare to have no conflict of interest connected with the presented research.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Brandi, A., Broadbent, A.M., Krayenhoff, E.S. et al. Influence of projected climate change, urban development and heat adaptation strategies on end of twenty-first century urban boundary layers across the Conterminous US. Clim Dyn 57, 757–773 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-021-05740-w
- Climate change
- Urban development
- Heat adaptation
- Unintended consequences