After a century of rapid urbanization, the majority of the world’s population is now living within urban areas. Despite this, micro and mesoscale meteorological dynamics and processes within the urban boundary layer are not thoroughly understood. Furthermore, a major fraction of these urban areas are located in coastal regions. These urban boundary layers are characterized by a high degree of surface heterogeneity and complex dynamics associated with interactions between land and marine air masses. The broad range of relevant spatial and temporal scales associated with coastal urban boundary layer phenomena makes them notoriously difficult to model.
One example of such phenomenon is the sea-breeze, observed in numerous coastal urban areas around the globe. The general sea-breeze circulation has associated spatial scales ranging from O(10 km) to O(100 km). However, it is directly influenced by surface exchanges, which have spatial scales down to O(1 m) in urban areas. By using novel multi-scale modelling methods capable of explicitly resolving all relevant scales of interactions, our aim is to study the complex balance of boundary layer processes during a realistic springtime sea-breeze case in Helsinki, Finland.
The PALM model system, an open source meteorological modelling system for boundary layer flows, has implemented the capability for multi-scale two-way self-nested large-eddy simulation (LES) setups. Such setups of several self-nested LES domains are especially suited for studying problems such as the interaction between the urban surface and the sea-breeze circulation. This approach differs from the more traditional modelling approaches, where interactions at either micro or mesoscale have been parametrized or given as one-way boundary conditions, effectively preventing the possibility of studying the two-way interactions and feedbacks.
We study both the mechanical and thermal influence of the urban surface on the development of the mesoscale circulation. Furthermore, we investigate how the urban surface affects the development of the internal boundary layer and subsequent convection in the lower branch of the cell, where the stable marine air mass is advected over land. This is achieved by studying the spatial scales associated with the convective turbulent structures as well as exchanges of heat and momentum in various regions of the circulation.
In order to verify the simulation setup and the results obtained, we compare the results with observations from Doppler lidars, a C-band dual-polarization weather radar and an in-situ measurement network being operated in the region. We anticipate that we will gain exciting new insights into the development of a sea-breeze circulation, convective internal boundary layers and turbulent structures in coastal urban boundary layers. Furthermore, we expect to quantify the effect of the urban surface on convective boundary layer development in the region.
How to cite: Karttunen, S., O'Connor, E., Hellsten, A., Fortelius, C., and Järvi, L.: Resolving micro to mesoscale interactions between urban surface and a sea-breeze circulation using high resolution large-eddy simulations, EMS Annual Meeting 2022, Bonn, Germany, 5–9 Sep 2022, EMS2022-218, https://doi.org/10.5194/ems2022-218, 2022.