Using WRF-Urban to Assess Summertime Air Conditioning Electric Loads and Their Impacts on Urban Weather in Beijing

Xiaoyu Xu, Fei Chen, Shuanghe Shen, Shiguang Miao, Michael Barlage, Wenli Guo, Alex Mahalov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The air conditioning (AC) electric loads and their impacts on local weather over Beijing during a 5 day heat wave event in 2010 are investigated by using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, in which the Noah land surface model with multiparameterization options (Noah-MP) is coupled to the multilayer Building Effect Parameterization and Building Energy Model (BEP+BEM). Compared to the legacy Noah scheme coupled to BEP+BEM, this modeling system shows a better performance, decreasing the root-mean-square error of 2 m air temperature to 1.9°C for urban stations. The simulated AC electric loads in suburban and rural districts are significantly improved by introducing the urban class-dependent building cooled fraction. Analysis reveals that the observed AC electric loads in each district are characterized by a common double peak at 3 p.m. and at 9 p.m. local standard time, and the incorporation of more realistic AC working schedules helps reproduce the evening peak. Waste heat from AC systems has a smaller effect (~1°C) on the afternoon 2 m air temperature than the evening one (1.5~2.4°C) if AC systems work for 24 h and vent sensible waste heat into air. Influences of AC systems can only reach up to ~400 m above the ground for the evening air temperature and humidity due to a shallower urban boundary layer than daytime. Spatially varying maps of AC working schedules and the ratio of sensible to latent waste heat release are critical for correctly simulating the cooling electric loads and capturing the thermal stratification of urban boundary layer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2475-2490
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 16 2018


  • AC electric loads
  • WRF-Urban
  • district-level verification
  • double-peak
  • impact on urban weather

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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