Initial results from Phase 2 of the international urban energy balance model comparison

C. S.B. Grimmond, M. Blackett, M. J. Best, J. J. Baik, S. E. Belcher, J. Beringer, S. I. Bohnenstengel, I. Calmet, F. Chen, A. Coutts, A. Dandou, K. Fortuniak, M. L. Gouvea, R. Hamdi, M. Hendry, M. Kanda, T. Kawai, Y. Kawamoto, H. Kondo, E. S. KrayenhoffS. H. Lee, T. Loridan, A. Martilli, V. Masson, S. Miao, K. Oleson, R. Ooka, G. Pigeon, A. Porson, Y. H. Ryu, F. Salamanca, G. J. Steeneveld, M. Tombrou, J. A. Voogt, D. T. Young, N. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

285 Scopus citations


Urban land surface schemes have been developed to model the distinct features of the urban surface and the associated energy exchange processes. These models have been developed for a range of purposes and make different assumptions related to the inclusion and representation of the relevant processes. Here, the first results of Phase 2 from an international comparison project to evaluate 32 urban land surface schemes are presented. This is the first large-scale systematic evaluation of these models. In four stages, participants were given increasingly detailed information about an urban site for which urban fluxes were directly observed. At each stage, each group returned their models' calculated surface energy balance fluxes. Wide variations are evident in the performance of the models for individual fluxes. No individual model performs best for all fluxes. Providing additional information about the surface generally results in better performance. However, there is clear evidence that poor choice of parameter values can cause a large drop in performance for models that otherwise perform well. As many models do not perform well across all fluxes, there is need for caution in their application, and users should be aware of the implications for applications and decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-272
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Energy balance
  • Evaporation
  • Land surface modelling
  • Radiation
  • Surface atmosphere exchanges
  • Sustainable cities
  • Turbulent heat fluxes
  • Urban climate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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