Development and application of a numerical simulation system to evaluate the impact of anthropogenic heat fluxes on urban boundary layer climate

Increasing economic development, and growing population, generated during the last decades a very important growth of cities. Urban regions include nowadays more than half of the global population and, by 2030, this proportion is forecasted to increase to three quarters. A consequent more and more extensive use of natural resources, together with increasing anthropogenic activities such as emissions from traffic and factories, or heating from air-conditioning facilities, modify local climate in many different ways, leading to a progressive degradation of life quality in urban areas. Taking these facts into account, there is nowadays a real need for efficient urban planning guidelines and sustainability policies in order to improve life quality in urban areas. Different points should be considered including urban warming, air pollution, human health, economic, and cooling energy needs. The present work goes in this direction, aiming at developing a simulation system for the study of the complex interactions between buildings and the atmosphere. The system of equations describing atmospheric flows is highly non linear and it is common to employ numerical techniques in order to solve them. Moreover, the representation of urban canopy climate, and related air pollution problems, requiree taking the interaction between urban scale (tens of kilometers), and mesoscale (hundreds of kilometers) processes into account. At first, starting from previous studies, a mesoscale meteorological model has been developed as part of this work. Urban induced processes have been considered by implementing inside the model a detailed urban parameterization scheme developed in a previous work. The scheme is able to capture different urban processes, and reproduces the effects of cities in a more accurate way than traditional methods usually used in mesoscale models. However, the heat generated in buildings, and the way this heat is exchanged with the exterior, was not explicitly resolved. In particular, recent studies indicated that anthropogenic heat from air-conditioning facilities can play an important role and should be taken into account for more complete urban climate studies. To this purpose, a Building Energy Model (BEM) has been developed, and coupled to the Urban Canopy Parameterisation (UCP). This building model takes into account the diffusion of heat through walls, roofs, and floors, the natural ventilation, the generation of heat from occupants and equipments, and the consumption of energy through air conditioning systems. Comparisons with other programs indicate that BEM is able to accurately simulate the basic heat transfer phenomena, and to reproduce the heat fluxes exchanged between buildings and the atmosphere. In a second part of the work, the simulation system composed by the Mesoscale Model (MM), UCP, and BEM is tested with respect to one, and two-dimensional configurations. In particular, the impact of BEM on the meteorological variables is analyzed, as well as the efficiency of different urban warming countermeasures, and cooling energy demands control strategies. Two-dimensional results are then utilized as guidance for the application of MM-UCP-BEM over the realistic configuration including the city of Basel and the surrounding areas. At first, comparisons of urban and rural simulated temperatures with measures provided by the BUBBLE project (Basel Urban Boundary Layer Experiment), have shown that the model could reasonably well reproduce the variations in outdoor air temperature. In a second time, the simulations considered for the two-dimensional configuration are applied to the case of Basel. Numerical results confirm that anthropogenic fluxes from air-conditioning facilities can have a non negligent impact on the urban meteorology. Typically, they modify the outdoor temperature and increase the Urban Heat Island (UHI) phenomenon. In the last part of the study, the applicability of the model in performing urban warming countermeasures, and cooling energy demands control strategies, is evaluated. In this purpose in mind, a sensitivity analysis is carried out indicating that appropriate physical properties of built materials, efficient air-conditioning systems, and the application of simple energy saving policies, can lead to very important cooling energy savings. In general, the application of BEM inside the UCP allows computing the heat released into the atmosphere by air-conditioning facilities, as well as the corresponding feedbacks produced on the different meteorological variables. It also increases the capability of the urban parameterisation to provide more detailed studies of urban warming countermeasures, and cooling energy demands in real cities.

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