Modelling the impact of urbanisation on regional climate in the Greater London Area

David Grawe, Heather Thompson, Jennifer Salmond, Xiaoming Cai, KH Schlunzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Urban areas have well-documented effects on climate, such as the urban heat island (UHI) effect, reduction of wind speeds, enhanced turbulence and boundary layer heights, and changes in cloud cover and precipitation. The aim of this study is to quantify the impact of the urban area of London on local and regional climate. This is achieved through the coupling of the non-hydrostatic mesoscale model METRAS with the sophisticated urban canopy scheme BEP. The model is configured for case studies of the London region, for typical UHI conditions, and the model results are evaluated using data from meteorological monitoring sites. This study develops a methodology to quantify the regional impact of urbanisation from numerical model results. The urban area, in its current form, is found to affect near surface temperature, the diurnal temperature range, the UHI, and the near surface wind speed and direction. For the selected cases, peak UHI intensities of up to 2.5 K are found during night time hours, with the timing and magnitude of the peak showing good agreement with previous experimental studies for London. The timing of the UHI peak intensity for the current urban land cover for London shows a good agreement with the results of measurements. A significant reduction in wind speed over the urban area was also simulated during both daytime and night time, due to the higher roughness of the city compared to the rural domain. The effect is shown to have a regional character, with both urban and surrounding rural areas demonstrating a significant impact. Thus, the UHI can not only be understood when focussing on local data, but the interaction with the surrounding needs to be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2388-2401
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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