, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 121–129 | Cite as

On the influence of urbanization on the water budget in Nairobi city: A numerical study

  • Franklin J. Opijah
  • Joseph R. Mukabana


The impact of the growth and development of the City of Nairobi on the water budget is simulated using a high-resolution limited-area numerical model. The water substance fields are modelled with full physics in a control experiment. Five sensitivity experiments are then performed by altering the land-use/cover over the domain of study to assess the influence of the city, forests and terrain undulations on the water substance fields. Results showed that the highest evaporation occurred in areas of the study domain with open grasslands/scattered bush-land's vegetation types and the least at the city centre. Deforestation would lead to a substantial increase in the loss of water effected through evaporation despite a reduction in transpiration. The observed rainfall amount and frequency were highest in the high ground portions to the northwest of the study domain. Numerical analyses showed that the urban heat island had a destabilizing effect on the flow, which enhanced convection that resulted in increased rainfall downwind of the urban area. Further growth and expansion of the city of Nairobi would increase the area and amount of rainfall received. Deforestation would decrease rainfall amounts. Massive reforestation would increase the observed rainfall. There has been a decrease in soil moisture at the current location of the city centre; the decrease is bound to increase with the expansion of the city. The City of Nairobi has resulted in a large decrease in the soil moisture through converting the natural fabric to concrete/asphalt material. Deforestation would result in a marginal decrease in the soil moisture. Further growth and development of Nairobi City would modify the water substance budget appreciably.

limited area atmospheric model urban effects 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Franklin J. Opijah
    • 1
  • Joseph R. Mukabana
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MeteorologyUniversity of Nairobi, P.O. BoxairobiKenya (
  2. 2.Kenya Meteorological DepartmentNairobiKenya

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