Understanding and representing hydrologic fluxes in the urban environment is challenging because of fine scale land cover heterogeneity and lack of coherent scaling relationships. Here, the impact of urban land cover heterogeneity, scale, and configuration on the hydrologic and surface energy budget (SEB) is assessed using an integrated, coupled land surface/hydrologic model at high spatial resolutions. Archetypes of urban land cover are simulated at varying resolutions using both the National Land Cover Database (NLCD; 30m) and an ultra high-resolution land cover dataset (0.6m). The analysis shows that the impact of highly organized, yet heterogeneous, land cover typical of the urban domain can cause large variations in hydrologic and energy fluxes within areas of similar land cover. The lateral flow processes that occur within each simulation create variations in overland flow of up to ±200% and ±4% in evapotranspiration. The impact on the SEB is smaller and largely restricted to the wet season for our semi-arid forcing scenarios. Finally, we find that this seasonal bias, predominantly caused by lateral flow, is displaced by a systematic diurnal bias at coarser resolutions caused by deficiencies in the method used for scaling of land surface and hydrologic parameters. As a result of this research, we have produced land surface parameters for the widely used NLCD urban land cover types. This work illustrates the impact of processes that remain unrepresented in traditional high-resolutions land surface models and how they may affect results and uncertainty in modeling of local water resources and climate.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology
- Hydrologic modeling
- Land surface
- Lateral flow