Numerical studies of urban heat island in greater Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia : from surface and boundary layer conditions to local air pollution

Ooi, Chel Gee (2017) Numerical studies of urban heat island in greater Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia : from surface and boundary layer conditions to local air pollution. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

Rapid urbanization of cities has greatly modified the thermal and dynamic profile in the urban boundary layer. This thesis attempts to study the effect of urban heating on the local climate and air quality for a tropical coastal urban agglomeration, Greater Kuala Lumpur (GKL) in Malaysia. A state-of-art numerical model, Weather Research and Forecast Model (WRF) is used to identify the influence of urbanization through modification of urban surfaces. In order to thoroughly study the environmental impact of land use change in GKL, this thesis begins with the local urban heating on the surface layer before extending to the influence on the boundary layer circulation and its atmospheric composition.

The WRF model is tested for its applicability to reproduce the urban heating condition. The model verification hence incorporates sensitivity analysis of physics pertinent to the simulation of land surface and boundary layer dynamics condition, namely the land use map, urban canopy model (UCM) and planetary boundary layer (PBL) physics options. Result shows that the urban surface representation and parameterization models in WRF are of great importance for the high resolution urban climate in the region. The locally calibrated land use map and urban parameters have substantially improved the near-surface weather and urban heating prediction. The local PBL scheme also predicts a generally good agreement for the studied region in terms of near-surface environment and vertical profile during the morning and evening transitional period.

Incorporating the optimum physics settings, the control study found that urbanization due to land use change has induced a modelled daily mean urban heat island intensity (UHII) of 0.9 °C with a more severe heating of 1.9 °C at night. The heating condition induces urban thermal circulation that interacts with the local topographic flow, namely sea/land breeze and downhill/uphill breeze for the coastal urban agglomeration sheltered by the mountain ranges on the other side. Depending on the cloud cover and prevailing synoptic flow, the immense heat forcing on the surface accelerates/decelerates the moisture-bearing sea breeze during the day. It also induces vertical lifting which creates a conducive environment for convective precipitation on the upwind region.

The subsequent control study with chemical weather prediction model (WRF-Chem) shows that the urban heating condition reduces the ground ozone level by around 20 ppbv throughout the day. Analysis shows that the reduced ozone level is closely correlated to the stronger horizontal sea breeze front (SBF) advection in the morning and urban-enhanced vertical mixing during the night which disperse the ground ozone and its precursors. Despite the reduction of ozone level, the air quality monitoring result identifies GKL as NOx-sensitive region which is prone to higher level of ozone with the continuous expansion of urban.

The thesis explores the ability of WRF software to reproduce the high resolution urban climate. The model evaluation has realistically discovered that WRF is able to produce good approximation of the near-surface weather condition and fairly reasonable vertical boundary layer profiles. However, the atmospheric chemistry composition of the local surface pollutants is greatly underestimated. Continuous effort is required to improve the regional prediction on the chemistry weather prediction tool.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Chan, Andy
Lau, Phei Li
Keywords: urban climate, land use, urban canopy model, Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics > QC811 Geomagnetism. Meteorology. Climatology
T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
Faculties/Schools: UNMC Malaysia Campus > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Civil Engineering
Item ID: 45137
Depositing User: OOI, CHEL GEE
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2018 04:09
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2018 17:03
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/45137

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