A Backward-Lagrangian-Stochastic Footprint Model for the Urban Environment

Chenghao Wang, Zhihua Wang, Jiachuan Yang, Qi Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Built terrains, with their complexity in morphology, high heterogeneity, and anthropogenic impact, impose substantial challenges in Earth-system modelling. In particular, estimation of the source areas and footprints of atmospheric measurements in cities requires realistic representation of the landscape characteristics and flow physics in urban areas, but has hitherto been heavily reliant on large-eddy simulations. In this study, we developed physical parametrization schemes for estimating urban footprints based on the backward-Lagrangian-stochastic algorithm, with the built environment represented by street canyons. The vertical profile of mean streamwise velocity is parametrized for the urban canopy and boundary layer. Flux footprints estimated by the proposed model show reasonable agreement with analytical predictions over flat surfaces without roughness elements, and with experimental observations over sparse plant canopies. Furthermore, comparisons of canyon flow and turbulence profiles and the subsequent footprints were made between the proposed model and large-eddy simulation data. The results suggest that the parametrized canyon wind and turbulence statistics, based on the simple similarity theory used, need to be further improved to yield more realistic urban footprint modelling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-80
Number of pages22
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Built terrain
  • Footprint model
  • Lagrangian stochastic method
  • Large-eddy simulation
  • Turbulent diffusion
  • Urban canopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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