A numerical study of the Urban Heat Island over Madrid during the DESIREX (2008) campaign with WRF and an evaluation of simple mitigation strategies

Francisco Salamanca, Alberto Martilli, Carlos Yagüe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Nowadays, mesoscale meteorological models coupled to Urban Canopy Parameterizations (UCP) can be used to complement and interpret the information gathered from intensive meteorological campaigns on the behaviour of the Urban Boundary Layer (UBL). Moreover, the impact of the air conditioning (AC) systems on the air temperature, the relationships existing between energy consumption (EC) and meteorological conditions, and the evaluation of strategies to mitigate the Urban Heat Island (UHI) phenomenon can be evaluated using detailed UCP. In this work, a new UCP implemented in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model (version V3.2) has been tested over the city of Madrid using two different turbulent parameterisations of the Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) under atmospheric conditions that were favourable for a large UHI. Two selected days were analysed coinciding with the Dual-use European Security IR Experiment (DESIREX) campaign that took place in the summer of 2008, and focused on Urban Heat Island (UHI) and Urban Thermography (UT) monitoring and assessment. For the two simulated days (30 June and 1 July) a high UHI intensity (5-6 °C) was observed and modelled. Numerical results for the surface air temperature and wind speed were compared against measurements showing a global satisfactory performance of the model. Some differences in the air temperature predictions were observed within the two turbulent schemes. Subsequently, the impact of the AC systems and the EC were evaluated for the simulated period. The heat fluxes coming from AC systems were responsible of an increase in the air temperature up to 1.5-2 °C in some dense urban areas. Effects of modifications in the roof albedo and building material properties reduced the total EC by 4.8 and 3.6%, respectively, affecting the intensity of the UHI. When AC systems were not ejecting the heat fluxes out in the atmosphere, the EC was reduced to 2.5%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2372-2386
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthropogenic heat
  • Energy consumption
  • Mesoscale models
  • Turbulent schemes
  • Urban boundary layer
  • Urban canopy parameterisations
  • Urban heat island

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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