A coupled energy transport and hydrological model for urban canopies evaluated using a wireless sensor network

Zhi Hua Wang, Elie R. Bou-Zeid, James A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


We propose a new surface exchange scheme coupling the transport of energy and water in urban canopies. The new model resolves the subfacet heterogeneity of urban surfaces, which is particularly useful for capturing surface exchange processes from vegetated urban surfaces, such as lawns or green roofs. We develop detailed urban hydrological models for surfaces consisting of either natural (soil and vegetation) or engineered materials with water-holding capacity. The coupling of energy and water transport enables us to parametrize surface evaporation from different urban facets including soils, vegetation and water-holding engineered surfaces. The new coupled model is evaluated using field measurement data obtained through a wireless sensor network deployed over the Princeton University campus. Comparison of model prediction and measured results shows that the proposed surface exchange scheme is able to predict widely varying surface temperatures for each subfacet with good accuracy. Different weather conditions and seasonal variability are found to have insignificant effect on the model performance. The new model is also able to capture the subsurface hydrological processes with reasonable accuracy, particularly for urban lawns. The proposed model is then applied to assess different mitigation strategies of the urban heat island effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1643-1657
Number of pages15
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number675
StatePublished - Jul 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Land-atmosphere interaction
  • Urban canopy model
  • Urban heat island
  • Urban hydrology
  • Water-holding pavements


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