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Variability of urban surface temperatures and implications for aerodynamic energy exchange in unstable conditions

Crawford, B., Grimmond, S. B. ORCID:, Gabey, A., Marconcini, M., Ward, H. C. and Kent, C. W. (2018) Variability of urban surface temperatures and implications for aerodynamic energy exchange in unstable conditions. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 144 (715). pp. 1719-1741. ISSN 1477-870X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/qj.3325


Sensible heat flux (QH) is a critical driver of surface and boundary layer meteorological processes, especially in urban areas. Aerodynamic resistance methods (ARM) to model QH are promising because, in principle, all that is needed is surface temperature (T0), air temperature (TA) and an aerodynamic resistance term (rH). There are significant challenges in urban areas however, due to uncertainties in satellite-derived land surface temperatures (LST), logistical challenges to obtain high-resolution air temperatures, and limited understanding of spatial and temporal variability of rH and associated variables (e.g. thermal roughness length). This work uses an extensive LST dataset covering six years (2011-2016) in central London and a long-term in situ observation network to analyse variability of LST and rH variables. Results show that LST is spatially correlated with building and vegetation land cover with coherent thermal structures at length scales less than 500-1000 m. Additionally, satellite-observed LST varies with average building height (up to 10% cooler in areas with tall buildings). The rH term and associated variables are observed to vary on daily and seasonal cycles and findings are used to model QH using five variations of an ARM-based approach on a 100 m pixel basis. Modelled QH is compared to observations from three scintillometer paths and an eddy covariance flux tower. We find generally good agreement between observations and models, though there is uncertainty in all methods (mean absolute error ranges from 58.1-129.3 W m-2) due to challenges in determining high-resolution meteorological and surface inputs, particularly LST and friction velocity (u*). Additional complexity in evaluating modelled QH arises from anthropogenic heat sources: long-term tower-based observations show that TA and radiometer-derived T0 are warmer during working weekdays than non-working days (up to 0.7C) and that there is an observed lag (2-3 hours) between energy consumption and observed warming and QH.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:77578
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society


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