Seasonal surface urban energy balance and wintertime stability simulated using three land-surface models in the high-latitude city Helsinki

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Karsisto, P. ; Fortelius, C. ; Demuzere, M. ; Grimmond, C. Sue B. ; Oleson, K. W. ; Kouznetsov, R. ; Masson, V. ; Järvi, L. (2016)

The performance of three urban land surface models, run in offline mode, with their default external parameters, is evaluated for two distinctly different sites in Helsinki: Torni and Kumpula. The former is a dense city centre site with 22% vegetation, while the latter is a suburban site with over 50% vegetation. At both locations the models are compared against sensible and latent heat fluxes measured using the eddy covariance technique, along with snow depth observations. The cold climate experienced by the city causes strong seasonal variations that include snow cover and stable atmospheric conditions. \ud \ud Most of the time the three models are able to account for the differences between the study areas as well as the seasonal and diurnal variability of the energy balance components. However, the performances are not systematic across the modelled components, season and surface type. The net all-wave radiation is well simulated, with the greatest uncertainties related to snowmelt timing, when the fraction of snow cover has a key role, particularly in determining the surface albedo. For the turbulent fluxes, more variation between the models is seen which can partly be explained by the different methods in their calculation and partly by surface parameter values. For the sensible heat flux, simulation of wintertime values was the main problem, which also leads to issues in predicting near-surface stabilities particularly at the dense city centre site. All models have the most difficulties in simulating latent heat flux. This study particularly emphasizes that improvements are needed in the parameterization of anthropogenic heat flux and thermal parameters in winter, snow cover in spring and evapotranspiration in order to improve the surface energy balance modelling in cold climate cities.
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