On the derivation of material thermal properties representative of heterogeneous urban neighborhoods

Francisco Salamanca, E. S. Krayenhoff, A. Martilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


An important question arises when modeling a heterogeneous landscape (e.g., an urbanized area) with a mesoscale atmospheric model. The surface within a grid cell of the model (which has a typical dimension of one or more kilometers) can be composed of patches of surfaces of different character. The total sensible heat flux in the grid cell, then, is the aggregate of the heat fluxes from each individual surface, each one with a unique thermal response arising from its thermal properties, among other factors. Current methods to estimate the sensible heat flux consider only one (in the case of flat terrain) or three (roof, walls, and ground, for urban areas) active surfaces with thermal properties that are ideally representative of the materials present in the grid cell. The question is then how to choose the representative thermal properties such that the heat flux computed by the model most closely approximates the aggregate of the fluxes from the different patches. In this work a new way to average building material thermal properties for urban canopy parameterizations is presented, and a suite of idealized numerical simulations demonstrates its superiority to two more standard averages. Moreover, this novel approach points to a new way of determining physical properties that are representative of heterogeneous zones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1725-1732
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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