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Surface heating in relation to air temperature, wind and turbulence in an urban street canyon

Journal article
Authors Brian Offerle
Ingegärd Eliasson
C. S. B. Grimmond
Björn Holmer
Published in Boundary-Layer Meteorology
Volume 122
Issue 2
Pages 273-292
ISSN 0006-8314
Publication year 2007
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 273-292
Language en
Keywords buoyancy, heat flux, surface temperature, urban canyon, wind field, pollutant dispersion, atmospheric models, energy-balance, albedo, exchange, canopy, fluxes, cities, scheme
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Wind and temperature measurements from within and above a deep urban canyon (height/width = 2.1) were used to examine the thermal structure of air within the canyon, exchange of heat with the overlying atmosphere, and the possible impacts of surface heating on within-canyon air flow. Measurements were made over a range of seasons and primarily analysed for sunny days. This allowed the study of temperature differences between opposing canyon walls and between wall and air of more than 15 degrees C in summer. The wall temperature patterns follow those of incoming solar radiation loading with a secondary daytime effect from the longwave exchange between the walls. In winter, the canyon walls receive little direct solar radiation, and temperature differences are largely due to anthropogenic heating of the building interiors. Cool air from aloft and heated air from canyon walls is shown to circulate within the canyon under cross-canyon flow. Roofs and some portions of walls heat up rapidly on clear days and have a large influence on heat fluxes and the temperature field. The magnitude and direction of the measured turbulent heat flux also depend strongly on the direction of flow relative to surface heating. However, these spatial differences are smoothed by the shear layer at the canyon top. Buoyancy effects from the heated walls were not seen to have as large an impact on the measured flow field as has been shown in numerical experiments. At night canyon walls are shown to be the source of positive sensible heat fluxes. The measurements show that materials and their location, as well as geometry, play a role in regulating the heat exchange between the urban surface and atmosphere.

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