Benefits of explicit urban parameterization in regional climate modeling to study climate and city interactions

Daniel, Maxime ; Lemonsu, Aude ; Déqué, Michel ; Somot, Samuel ; Alias, Antoinette ; Masson, Valéry

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<p align="justify">Most climate models do not explicitly model urban areas and at best describe them as rock covers. Nonetheless, the very high resolutions reached now by the regional climate models may justify and require a more realistic parameterization of surface exchanges between urban canopy and atmosphere. To quantify the potential impact of urbanization on the regional climate, and evaluate the benefits of a detailed urban canopy model compared with a simpler approach, a sensitivity study was carried out over France at a 12-km horizontal resolution with the ALADIN-Climate regional model for 1980-2009 time period. Different descriptions of land use and urban modeling were compared, corresponding to an explicit modeling of cities with the urban canopy model TEB, a conventional and simpler approach representing urban areas as rocks, and a vegetated experiment for which cities are replaced by natural covers. A general evaluation of ALADIN-Climate was first done, that showed an overestimation of the incoming solar radiation but satisfying results in terms of precipitation and near-surface temperatures. The sensitivity analysis then highlighted that urban areas had a significant impact on modeled near-surface temperature. A further analysis on a few large French cities indicated that over the 30 years of simulation they all induced a warming effect both at daytime and nighttime with values up to + 1.5 °C for the city of Paris. The urban model also led to a regional warming extending beyond the urban areas boundaries. Finally, the comparison to temperature observations available for Paris area highlighted that the detailed urban canopy model improved the modeling of the urban heat island compared with a simpler approach.</p>
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