Urban Canopy Modeling of the New York City Metropolitan Area: A Comparison and Validation of Single- and Multilayer Parameterizations

Holt, Teddy; Pullen, Julie
May 2007
Monthly Weather Review;May2007, Vol. 135 Issue 5, p1906
Academic Journal
High-resolution numerical simulations are conducted using the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) with two different urban canopy parameterizations for a 23-day period in August 2005 for the New York City (NYC) metropolitan area. The control COAMPS simulations use the single-layer Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Urban Canopy Model (W-UCM) and sensitivity simulations use a multilayer urban parameterization based on Brown and Williams (BW-UCM). Both simulations use surface forcing from the WRF land surface model, Noah, and hourly sea surface temperature fields from the New York Harbor and Ocean Prediction System model hindcast. Mean statistics are computed for the 23-day period from 5 to 27 August (540-hourly observations) at five Meteorological Aviation Report stations for a nested 0.444-km horizontal resolution grid centered over the NYC metropolitan area. Both simulations show a cold mean urban canopy air temperature bias primarily due to an underestimation of nighttime temperatures. The mean bias is significantly reduced using the W-UCM (-0.10°C for W-UCM versus -0.82°C for BW-UCM) due to the development of a stronger nocturnal urban heat island (UHI; mean value of 2.2°C for the W-UCM versus 1.9°C for the BW-UCM). Results from a 24-h case study (12 August 2005) indicate that the W-UCM parameterization better maintains the UHI through increased nocturnal warming due to wall and road effects. The ground heat flux for the W-UCM is much larger during the daytime than for the BW-UCM (peak ∼300 versus 100 W m-2), effectively shifting the period of positive sensible flux later into the early evening. This helps to maintain the near-surface mixed layer at night in the W-UCM simulation and sustains the nocturnal UHI. In contrast, the BW-UCM simulation develops a strong nocturnal stable surface layer extending to approximately 50–75-m depth. Subsequently, the nocturnal BW-UCM wind speeds are a factor of 3–4 less than W-UCM with reduced nighttime turbulent kinetic energy (average < 0.1 m2 s-2). For the densely urbanized area of Manhattan, BW-UCM winds show more dependence on urbanization than W-UCM. The decrease in urban wind speed is most prominent for BW-UCM both in the day- and nighttime over lower Manhattan, with the daytime decrease generally over the region of tallest building heights while the nighttime decrease is influenced by both building height as well as urban fraction. In contrast, the W-UCM winds show less horizontal variation over Manhattan, particularly during the daytime. These results stress the importance of properly characterizing the urban morphology in urban parameterizations at high resolutions to improve the model’s predictive capability.


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