Multiscale modeling and evaluation of urban surface energy balance in the Phoenix metropolitan area

S. R. Shaffer, W. T.L. Chow, M. Georgescu, P. Hyde, G. D. Jenerette, A. Mahalov, M. Moustaoui, B. L. Ruddell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Physical mechanisms of incongruency between observations and Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model predictions are examined. Limitations of evaluation are constrained by (i) parameterizations of model physics, (ii) parameterizations of input data, (iii) model resolution, and (iv) flux observation resolution. Observations from a new 22.1-m flux tower situated within a residential neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona, are utilized to evaluate the ability of the urbanized WRF to resolve finescale surface energy balance (SEB) when using the urban classes derived from the 30-m-resolution National Land Cover Database. Modeled SEB response to a large seasonal variation of net radiation forcing was tested during synoptically quiescent periods of high pressure in winter 2011 and premonsoon summer 2012. Results are presented from simulations employing five nested domains down to 333-m horizontal resolution. A comparative analysis of model cases testing parameterization of physical processes was done using four configurations of urban parameterization for the bulk urban scheme versus three representations with the Urban Canopy Model (UCM) scheme, and also for two types of planetary boundary layer parameterization: the local Mellor-Yamada- Janjić scheme and the nonlocal Yonsei University scheme. Diurnal variation in SEB constituent fluxes is examined in relation to surface-layer stability and modeled diagnostic variables. Improvement is found when adapting UCM for Phoenix with reduced errors in the SEB components. Finer model resolution is seen to have insignificant (<1 standard deviation) influence on mean absolute percent difference of 30-min diurnal mean SEB terms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-338
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmosphere-land interaction
  • Diurnal effects
  • Energy budget/balance
  • Land use
  • Model evaluation/performance
  • Urban meteorology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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