Role of Surface Characteristics in Urban Meteorology and Air Quality

Publication Type




Urbanization results in a landscape with significantly modified surface characteristics. The lower values of reflectivity to solar radiation, surface moisture availability, and vegetative cover, along with the higher values of anthropogenic heat release and surface roughness combine to result higher air temperatures in urban areas relative to their rural counterparts. Through their role in the surface energy balance and surface exchange processes, these surface characteristics are capable of modifying the local meteorology. The impacts on wind speeds, air temperatures, and mixing heights are of particular importance, as they have significant implications in terms of urban energy use and air quality. This research presents several major improvements to the meteorological modeling methodology for highly heterogeneous terrain. A land-use data-base is implemented to provide accurate specification of surface characteristic variability in simulations of the Los Angeles Basin. Several vegetation parameterizations are developed and implemented, and a method for including anthropogenic heat release into the model physics is presented. These modeling advancements are then used in a series of three-dimensional simulations which were developed to investigate the potential meteorological impact of several mitigation strategies. Results indicate that application of moderate tree-planting and urban-lightening programs in Los Angeles may produce summertime air temperature reductions on the order of 4degreeC with a concomitant reduction in air pollution. The analysis also reveals several mechanisms whereby the application of these mitigation strategies may potentially increase pollutant concentrations. The pollution and energy use consequences are discussed in detail.

Year of Publication




Added to JabRef: 2010.04.21


Research Areas