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Effects of the large-scale atmospheric circulation on the onset and strength of urban heat islands: a case study

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Abstract

Air temperature was monitored at 13 sites across the urban perimeter of a Brazilian midsize city in winter 2011. In this study, we show that the urban heat island (UHI) develops only at night and under certain weather conditions, and its intensity depends not only on the site's land cover but also on the meteorological setting. The urban heat island intensity was largest (6.6 °C) under lingering high-pressure conditions, milder (3.0 °C) under cold anticyclones and almost vanished (1.0 °C) during the passage of cold fronts. The cooling rates were calculated to monitor the growth and decay of the UHI over each specific synoptic setting. Over four contiguous days under the effect of a lingering high-pressure event, we observed that the onset of cooling was always at about 2 h before sunset. The reference site attained mean cooling rate of −2.6 °C h−1 at sunset, whilst the maximum urban rate was −1.2 °C h−1. Under a 3-day cold anticyclone episode, cooling also started about 2 h before sunset, and the difference between maximum rural (−2.0 °C h−1) and urban (−1.0 °C h−1) cooling rates diminished. Under cold-front conditions, the cooling rate was homogeneous for all sites and swang about zero throughout the day. The air temperature has a memory effect under lingering high-pressure conditions which intensified the UHI, in addition to the larger heat storage in the urban area. Cold anticyclone conditions promoted the development of the UHI; however, the cold air pool and relatively light winds smoothed out its intensity. Under the influence of cold fronts, the urban fabric had little effect on the city's air temperature field, and the UHI was imperceptible.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Fundação Araucária (grant number 470/2010) for funding the air temperature sensors used in this study. G. Coraiola is an undergraduate research bursary financed by CNPq (grant number 555768/2010-4). We thank those individuals and companies that hosted the temperature sensors during the measurement campaign, namely the students of the Federal Technology University of Paraná, the managers of IATE Clube Londrina, Lessence and Boulevard Park buildings and State University of Londrina (UEL). EMBRAPA Soja, IAPAR, SIMEPAR and INFRAERO are acknowledged for furnishing meteorological data. The authors express their sincere appreciation to the two anonymous reviewers who offered very relevant suggestions to improve the quality of this work.

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Correspondence to Admir Créso Targino.

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Targino, A.C., Krecl, P. & Coraiola, G.C. Effects of the large-scale atmospheric circulation on the onset and strength of urban heat islands: a case study. Theor Appl Climatol 117, 73–87 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-013-0989-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-013-0989-7

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