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Observing and modeling the nocturnal park cool island of an arid city: horizontal and vertical impacts

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Abstract

We examined the horizontal and vertical nocturnal cooling influence of a small park with irrigated lawn and xeric surfaces (∼3 ha) within a university campus of a hot arid city. Temperature data from 0.01- to 3-m heights observed during a bicycle traverse of the campus were combined with modeled spatial temperature data simulated from a three-dimensional microclimate model (ENVI-met 3.1). A distinct park cool island, with mean observed magnitudes of 0.7–3.6°C, was documented for both traverse and model data with larger cooling intensities measured closer to surface level. Modeled results possessed varying but generally reasonable accuracy in simulating both spatial and temporal temperature data, although some systematic errors exist. A combination of several factors, such as variations in surface thermal properties, urban geometry, building orientation, and soil moisture, was likely responsible for influencing differential urban and non-urban near-surface temperatures. A strong inversion layer up to 1 m over non-urban surfaces was detected, contrasting with near-neutral lapse rates over urban surfaces. A key factor in the spatial expansion of the park cool island was the advection of cooler park air to adjacent urban surfaces, although this effect was mostly concentrated from 0- to 1-m heights over urban surfaces that were more exposed to the atmosphere.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Thomas K. Swoveland, Abeer Hamdan and Paul Iñiguez (Arizona State University) for their assistance during fieldwork reconnaissance and data collection. Dr. Chen-Yi Sun (National Chin-Yi University, Taiwan) and Dr. Nancy Selover (Office of the Arizona State Climatologist) advised on the instrument and measurement techniques. Dr. Jianguo Wu (Arizona State University) and Dr. Michael Bruse (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz) provided critical feedback and comments. We also thank the Maricopa County Air Quality Department for providing secondary climate data from the Tempe meteorological station. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DEB-0423704, Central Arizona - Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER). The lead author was also supported by the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore.

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Correspondence to Winston T. L. Chow.

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Chow, W.T.L., Pope, R.L., Martin, C.A. et al. Observing and modeling the nocturnal park cool island of an arid city: horizontal and vertical impacts. Theor Appl Climatol 103, 197–211 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-010-0293-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-010-0293-8

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