EGU21-7806, updated on 16 Apr 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Modelling rain heterogeneities within an urban neighbourhood

Karolin S. Ferner1, K. Heinke Schlünzen2, and Marita Boettcher2
Karolin S. Ferner et al.
  • 1Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht, Climate Service Center Germany, Germany (
  • 2Meteorological Institute, CEN, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Urbanisation locally modifies the regional climate: an urban climate develops. For example, the average wind speed in cities is reduced, while the gustiness is increased. Buildings induce vertical winds, which influence the falling of rain. All these processes lead to heterogeneous patterns of rain at ground and on building surfaces. The small-scale spatial rain heterogeneities may cause discomfort for people. Moreover, non-uniform wetting of buildings affects their hydrothermal performance and durability of their facades.

Measuring rain heterogeneities between buildings is, however, nearly impossible. Building induced wind gusts negatively influence the representativeness of in-situ measurements, especially in densely urbanised areas. Weather radars are usually too coarse and, more importantly, require an unobstructed view over the domain and thus do not measure ground precipitation in urban areas. Consequently, researchers turn to numerical modelling in order to investigate small-scale precipitation heterogeneities between buildings.

In building science, numerical models are used to investigate rain heterogeneities typically focussing on single buildings and vertical facades. Only few studies were performed for more than a single building or with inclusion of atmospheric processes such as radiation or condensation. In meteorology, increasing computational power now allows the use of small-scale obstacle-resolving models resolving atmospheric processes while covering neighbourhoods.

In order to assess rain heterogeneities between buildings we extended the micro-scale and obstacle-resolving transport- and stream model MITRAS (Salim et al. 2019). The same cloud microphysics parameterisation as in its mesoscale sister model METRAS (Schlünzen et al., 2018) was applied and boundary conditions for cloud and rain water content at obstacle surfaces were introduced. MITRAS results are checked for plausibility using radar and in-situ measurements (Ferner et al., 2021). To our knowledge MITRAS is the first numerical urban climate model that includes rain and simulates corresponding processes.

Model simulations were initialised for various wind speeds and mesoscale rain rates to assess their influence on the heterogeneity of falling rain in a domain of 1.9 x 1.7 km² around Hamburg City Hall. We investigated how wind speed or mesoscale rain rate influence the precipitation patterns at ground and at roof level. Based on these results we assessed the height dependence of precipitation. First analyses show that higher buildings receive more rain on their roofs than lower buildings; the results will be presented in detail in our talk.

Ferner, K.S., Boettcher, M., Schlünzen, K.H. (2021): Modelling the heterogeneity of rain in an urban neighbourhood. Publication in preparation

Salim, M.H., Schlünzen, K.H., Grawe, D., Boettcher, M., Gierisch, A.M.U., Fock B.H. (2018): The microscale obstacle-resolving meteorological model MITRAS v2.0: model theory. Geosci. Model Dev., 11, 3427–3445,

Schlünzen, K.H., Boettcher, M., Fock, B.H., Gierisch, A.M.U., Grawe, D., and Salim, M. (2018): Scientific Documentation of the Multiscale Model System M-SYS. Meteorological Institute, Universität Hamburg. MEMI Technical Report 4

How to cite: Ferner, K. S., Schlünzen, K. H., and Boettcher, M.: Modelling rain heterogeneities within an urban neighbourhood, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7806,, 2021.

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