Monte Carlo simulations of radiative heat exchange in a street canyon with trees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Land surface energy balance in a built environment is widely modelled using urban canopy models with representation of building arrays as big street canyons. Modification of this simplified geometric representation, however, leads to challenging numerical difficulties in improving physical parameterization schemes that are deterministic in nature. In this paper, we develop a stochastic algorithm to estimate view factors between canyon facets in the presence of shade trees based on Monte Carlo simulation, where an analytical formulation is inhibited by the complex geometry. The model is validated against analytical solutions of benchmark radiative problems as well as field measurements in real street canyons. In conjunction with the matrix method resolving infinite number of reflections, the proposed model is capable of predicting the radiative exchange inside the street canyon with good accuracy. Modeling of transient evolution of thermal filed inside the street canyon using the proposed method demonstrate the potential of shade trees in mitigating canyon surface temperatures as well as saving of building energy use. This new numerical framework also deepens our insight into the fundamental physics of radiative heat transfer and surface energy balance for urban climate modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)704-713
Number of pages10
JournalSolar Energy
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Building energy consumption
  • Monte Carlo method
  • Radiative heat transfer
  • View factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


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