A Spatially-Analytical Scheme for Surface Temperatures and Conductive Heat Fluxes in Urban Canopy Models

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


In the urban environment, surface temperatures and conductive heat fluxes through solid media (roofs, walls, roads and vegetated surfaces) are of paramount importance for the comfort of residents (indoors) and for microclimatic conditions (outdoors). Fully discrete numerical methods are currently used to model heat transfer in these solid media in parametrisations of built surfaces commonly used in weather prediction models. These discrete methods usually use finite difference schemes in both space and time. We propose a spatially-analytical scheme where the temperature field and conductive heat fluxes are solved analytically in space. Spurious numerical oscillations due to temperature discontinuities at the sublayer interfaces can be avoided since the method does not involve spatial discretisation. The proposed method is compared to the fully discrete method for a test case of one-dimensional heat conduction with sinusoidal forcing. Subsequently, the analytical scheme is incorporated into the offline version of the current urban canopy model (UCM) used in the Weather Research and Forecasting model and the new UCM is validated against field measurements using a wireless sensor network and other supporting measurements over a suburban area under real-world conditions. Results of the comparison clearly show the advantage of the proposed scheme over the fully discrete model, particularly for more complicated cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-193
Number of pages23
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Green's function
  • Heat conduction
  • Surface temperature
  • Urban canopy model
  • Urban microclimate


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