Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 166, Issue 3, pp 367–393 | Cite as

Impacts of Realistic Urban Heating, Part I: Spatial Variability of Mean Flow, Turbulent Exchange and Pollutant Dispersion

  • Negin Nazarian
  • Alberto Martilli
  • Jan Kleissl
Research Article


As urbanization progresses, more realistic methods are required to analyze the urban microclimate. However, given the complexity and computational cost of numerical models, the effects of realistic representations should be evaluated to identify the level of detail required for an accurate analysis. We consider the realistic representation of surface heating in an idealized three-dimensional urban configuration, and evaluate the spatial variability of flow statistics (mean flow and turbulent fluxes) in urban streets. Large-eddy simulations coupled with an urban energy balance model are employed, and the heating distribution of urban surfaces is parametrized using sets of horizontal and vertical Richardson numbers, characterizing thermal stratification and heating orientation with respect to the wind direction. For all studied conditions, the thermal field is strongly affected by the orientation of heating with respect to the airflow. The modification of airflow by the horizontal heating is also pronounced for strongly unstable conditions. The formation of the canyon vortices is affected by the three-dimensional heating distribution in both spanwise and streamwise street canyons, such that the secondary vortex is seen adjacent to the windward wall. For the dispersion field, however, the overall heating of urban surfaces, and more importantly, the vertical temperature gradient, dominate the distribution of concentration and the removal of pollutants from the building canyon. Accordingly, the spatial variability of concentration is not significantly affected by the detailed heating distribution. The analysis is extended to assess the effects of three-dimensional surface heating on turbulent transfer. Quadrant analysis reveals that the differential heating also affects the dominance of ejection and sweep events and the efficiency of turbulent transfer (exuberance) within the street canyon and at the roof level, while the vertical variation of these parameters is less dependent on the detailed heating of urban facets.


Computational fluid dynamics Pollutant dispersion Realistic heating distribution Three-dimensional street canyon Turbulent transfer 



We thank Omduth Coceal from University of Reading for providing the data of the DNS analysis used in this paper. Funding was received from the National Science Foundation, Environmental Sustainability CAREER award number CBET-0847054, as well as from the National Research Foundation Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise programme.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and TechnologySingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Center for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT)MadridSpain

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