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Urban modification of the surface energy balance in the West African Sahel: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Journal article
Authors Brian Offerle
Ingegärd Eliasson
C. S. B. Grimmond
Per Jonsson
Published in Journal of Climate
Volume 18
Issue 19
Pages 3983-3995
ISSN 0894-8755
Publication year 2005
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 3983-3995
Language en
Keywords radiation balance, heat-island, scheme, land, city, parameterization, climate, models
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Surface-atmosphere energy exchanges in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, located in the West African Sahel, were investigated during February 2003. Basic knowledge of the impact of land cover changes on local climate is needed to understand and forecast the impacts of rapid urbanization predicted for the region. Previously collected data showed a large dry season urban heat island (UHI), which dramatically decreased with the onset of the rainy season and corresponding changes to the natural land cover thermal and radiative properties. Observations of local-scale energy balance fluxes were made over a residential district; and building surface temperatures were measured in three separate locations. Net all-wave radiation showed an increase with urbanization owing to the higher albedo, lower heat capacity, and thermal conductivity of the bare dry soil compared to the urbanized surface. The combination of material and geometry resulted in a decrease in albedo toward the urban center. Despite the higher albedo, surface temperatures of bare undisturbed soil could exceed surface temperatures in the residential area and urban center by 15 degrees-20 degrees C due to differences in thermal characteristics. Turbulent heat exchange measured over a residential area was dominated by sensible heat flux. Latent heat fluxes were greater than expected from the amount of vegetation but in accordance with water use in the area. An urban land surface scheme reproduced fluxes in agreement with measurements. The results point toward an intensification of the dry season urban heat island in Ouagadougou, given increased urbanization.

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