Modelling the impact of urbanisation on the regional climate of the Greater London area

Thompson, Heather Louise (2009). Modelling the impact of urbanisation on the regional climate of the Greater London area. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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Urban areas have well documented effects on climate, such as the urban heat island effect, reduction of wind speeds, enhanced turbulence and boundary layer heights, and changes in cloud cover and precipitation. This PhD examines the impact of the urban surface on the major agglomeration of London on local and regional climate by means of the numerical mesoscale model METRAS (Schlünzen 1988) coupled for the first time with the sophisticated urban canopy scheme BEP, developed by Martilli et al. (2002). The robustness of the new model is demonstrated through a series of simulations and sensitivity studies for an idealised urban domain. The model is then configured for the London region, and evaluated using data from a range of meteorological monitoring sites. Implementation of the urban canopy scheme results in a marked improvement in model performance. Under ideal meteorological conditions, peak urban heat island 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 new model is then used to investigate how growth of the Greater London urban area affects the urban heat island intensity. The results show that the relative fractions of urban land cover and of vegetation within the urban area have important implications for the near surface temperature, diurnal temperature range, wind speed and urban heat island intensity. The results also suggest that extensive future growth of the London urban area has the potential to increase temperatures, with significant increases for both daytime and night time. The specific forms of urban development, such as densification and spatial expansion, have an impact on these fields. These results have important implications for the design of cities and the management of urban climate.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Department of Geography
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences


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