Evaluation of urban surface parameterizations in the WRF model using measurements during the Texas Air Quality Study 2006 field campaign
1Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
2NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado, USA
*now at: Ball Aerospace and Technologies, Corporation, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Abstract. The impact of urban surface parameterizations in the WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting) model on the simulation of local meteorological fields is investigated. The Noah land surface model (LSM), a modified LSM, and a single-layer urban canopy model (UCM) have been compared, focusing on urban patches. The model simulations were performed for 6 days from 12 August to 17 August during the Texas Air Quality Study 2006 field campaign. Analysis was focused on the Houston-Galveston metropolitan area. The model simulated temperature, wind, and atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) height were compared with observations from surface meteorological stations (Continuous Ambient Monitoring Stations, CAMS), wind profilers, the NOAA Twin Otter aircraft, and the NOAA Research Vessel Ronald H. Brown. The UCM simulation showed better results in the comparison of ABL height and surface temperature than the LSM simulations, whereas the original LSM overestimated both the surface temperature and ABL height significantly in urban areas. The modified LSM, which activates hydrological processes associated with urban vegetation mainly through transpiration, slightly reduced warm and high biases in surface temperature and ABL height. A comparison of surface energy balance fluxes in an urban area indicated the UCM reproduces a realistic partitioning of sensible heat and latent heat fluxes, consequently improving the simulation of urban boundary layer. However, the LSMs have a higher Bowen ratio than the observation due to significant suppression of latent heat flux. The comparison results suggest that the subgrid heterogeneity by urban vegetation and urban morphological characteristics should be taken into account along with the associated physical parameterizations for accurate simulation of urban boundary layer if the region of interest has a large fraction of vegetation within the urban patch. Model showed significant discrepancies in the specific meteorological conditions when nocturnal low-level jets exist and a thermal internal boundary layer over water forms.