Evaluation of the WRF-Urban Modeling System Coupled to Noah and Noah-MP Land Surface Models Over a Semiarid Urban Environment

Francisco Salamanca Palou, Yizhou Zhang, Michael Barlage, Fei Chen, Alex Mahalov, Shiguang Miao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


We have augmented the existing capabilities of the integrated Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)-urban modeling system by coupling three urban canopy models (UCMs) available in the WRF model with the new community Noah with multiparameterization options (Noah-MP) land surface model (LSM). The WRF-urban modeling system's performance has been evaluated by conducting six numerical experiments at high spatial resolution (1 km horizontal grid spacing) during a 15 day clear-sky summertime period for a semiarid urban environment. To assess the relative importance of representing urban surfaces, three different urban parameterizations are used with the Noah and Noah-MP LSMs, respectively, over the two major cities of Arizona: Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas. Our results demonstrate that Noah-MP reproduces somewhat better than Noah the daily evolution of surface skin temperature and near-surface air temperature (especially nighttime temperature) and wind speed. Concerning the urban areas, bulk urban parameterization overestimates nighttime 2 m air temperature compared to the single-layer and multilayer UCMs that reproduce more accurately the daily evolution of near-surface air temperature. Regarding near-surface wind speed, only the multilayer UCM was able to reproduce realistically the daily evolution of wind speed, although maximum winds were slightly overestimated, while both the single-layer and bulk urban parameterizations overestimated wind speed considerably. Based on these results, this paper demonstrates that the new community Noah-MP LSM coupled to an UCM is a promising physics-based predictive modeling tool for urban applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2387-2408
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 16 2018


  • land surface models
  • mesoscale modeling
  • surface skin temperature
  • urban canopy models
  • urban heat island

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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