Development of a Modeling System for Urban Heat Islands: An Application to Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece

  • T. M. Giannaros
  • D. Melas
  • I. Keramitsoglou
  • I. A. Daglis
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Atmospheric Sciences book series (SPRINGERATMO)


The urban heat island (UHI) is one of the most well known forms of localized, inadvertent anthropogenic climate modification. The study of urban climate problems, such as the UHI, is possible through the implementation of numerical models. In this context, numerical weather prediction models are thought to be a significant supporting tool with a wide area of successful applications for studying the UHI effect. The current paper aims to present the development of a numerical modeling system that could be used for forecasting the UHI and its impacts on human thermal comfort. The modeling system is based on the meso-scale meteorological Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Major innovations include the incorporation of high resolution land use data, the use of satellite data for defining land surface parameters, and the development of a downscaling mask for increasing the spatial resolution. The modeling system was evaluated against ground-based data during selected dates in summer 2010 for the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki. The estimated average bias of the model in terms of air temperature simulation was found to approximate ±1°C.


Urban Heat Island European Environment Agency Urban Heat Island Effect Mean Bias Error Urban Heat Island Intensity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) Contract 21913/08/I-LG for the project “Urban Heat Islands and Urban Thermography (UHI)”.


  1. Chen F, Kusaka R, Bornstain J et al (2011) The integrated WRF/urban modeling system: development, evaluation, and applications to urban environmental problems. Int J Climatol 31:273–288. doi: 10.1002/joc.2158 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cheng FY, Byun DW (2008) Application of high resolution land use and land cover data for atmospheric modeling in the Houston-Galveston metropolitan area, part I: meteorological simulation results. Atmos Environ 42:7795–7811. doi: 10.1016/J.AtmosEnv.2008.04.055 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cox R, Bauer BL, Smith T (1998) Mesoscale model intercomparison. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 79:265–283. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Daglis IA, Rapsomanikis S, Kourtidis K et al (2010) Results of the DUE THERMOPOLIS campaign with regard to the urban heat island (UHI) effect in Athens. In: Proceedings of the ESA living planet symposium, Bergen, Norway, 28 June–2 July 2010Google Scholar
  5. Foy B, Molina LT, Molina MJ (2006) Satellite-derived land surface parameters for mesoscale modeling of the Mexico city basin. Atmos Chem Phys 6:1315–1330. doi: 10.5194/acpd-5-9861-2005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kim YH, Baik JJ (2005) Spatial and temporal structure of the urban heat island in Seoul. J Appl Meteorol 44:591–605. doi: 10.1175/JAM2226.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lin CY, Chen F, Huang JC, Chen WC, Liou YA, Chen WN, Liu SC (2008) Urban heat island and its impact on boundary layer development and land-sea circulation in northern Taiwan. Atmos Environ 42:5635–5649. doi: 10.1016/J.AtmosEnv.2008.03.015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Liu Y, Chen F, Warner T, Basara J (2006) Verification of a mesoscale data-assimilation and forecasting system for the Oklahoma city area during the Joint Urban 2003 field project. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 45:912–929. doi: 10.1175/JAM2383.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lo JCF, Lau AKH, Chen F, Fung JCH, Leung KKM (2007) Urban modification in a mesoscale model and the effects on the local circulation in the Pearl River Delta region. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 46:457–476. doi: 10.1175/JAM2477.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Masson V (2006) Urban surface modeling and the meso-scale impact of cities. Theor Appl Climatol 84:35–45. doi: 10.1007/s00704-005-0142-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Miao S, Chen D, Borne K (2007) Evaluation and comparison of Noah and Pleim-Xiu land surface models in MM5 using GOTE2001 data: spatial and temporal variations in near-surface air temperature. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 46:1587–1605. doi: 10.1175/JAM2561.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Miao S, Chen F, LeMone MA, Tewari M, Li Q, Wang Y (2009) An observational and modeling study of characteristics of urban heat island and boundary layer structures in Beijing. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 48:484–501. doi: 10.1175/2008JAMC1909.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Shem W, Shepherd M (2009) On the impact of urbanization on summertime thunderstorms in Atlanta: two numerical model case studies. Atmos Res 92:172–189. doi: 10.1016/J.AtmosRes.2008.09.013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Skamarock WC, Klemp JB, Dudhia J et al (2008) A description of the advanced research WRF version 3. NCAR Technical Note (NCAR/TN-475+STR), Boulder, COGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. M. Giannaros
    • 1
  • D. Melas
    • 1
  • I. Keramitsoglou
    • 2
  • I. A. Daglis
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Atmospheric PhysicsAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.Institute for Space Applications and Remote SensingNational Observatory of AthensAthensGreece

Personalised recommendations