Investigation of the ENVI-met model sensitivity to different wind direction forcing data in a heterogeneous urban environment

Eingrüber, Nils; Korres, Wolfgang; Löhnert, Ulrich; Schneider, Karl

As the frequency of extreme heat events in cities is significantly increasing due to climate change, the implementation of adaptation measures is important for urban planning. Microclimate modelling approaches enable scenario analyses and evaluations of adaptation potentials. An ENVI-met microclimate model was setup for a heterogeneous urban study area in Cologne/Germany characterized by closed building structures in the eastern part and an urban park area in the western part. The goal of this paper is to evaluate the model sensitivity and performance to different wind direction forcing and demonstrate the importance of accurate wind forcing data for precise microclimate modelling evaluated with sensor measurements. To this end, we compared simulated air temperatures at 3 m height level using measured wind direction forcing data with simulated air temperatures using constant wind direction forcing from west, north, east and south direction. All other forcing data like wind speed were kept exactly the same as in the reference run. This sensitivity study was performed for a warm summer day in 2022. The model results of all five model runs (reference plus four scenarios) were compared to microclimatological measurements derived from one station of a dense meteorological sensor network located in the study area using the simulated mean air temperatures. We found significant temperature differences between the four sensitivity tests and the reference run as well as to the sensor measurements. Temperature differences between the reference run and the measurements were small and a high statistical model fit could be determined (Nash Sutcliffe Model Efficiency Coefficient/NSE inline-formula= 0.91). The four model runs with constant wind directions showed significantly larger differences to measurement data and a worse statistical correlation between simulated and observed data (NSE between 0.62 and 0.15). For constant west winds, cooler air temperatures and higher wind speeds were found in the urban park and in the streets and courtyards east of the park. Constant east wind causes warmer air temperatures in the urban park area and lower wind speeds in the street canyons and inner courtyards. This shows that cooling effects in adjacent building blocks due to the greened urban park largely depend on the wind direction. The sensitivity tests show that the wind direction effect can result in local air temperature differences of up to 4 K on average. These results shows that even on summer days with low wind speeds, accurate wind direction data is highly relevant for accurate air temperature simulation. This finding can have important implications for urban planning and the design of green infrastructures in cities, e. g. for the design of fresh air corridors.

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Eingrüber, Nils / Korres, Wolfgang / Löhnert, Ulrich / et al: Investigation of the ENVI-met model sensitivity to different wind direction forcing data in a heterogeneous urban environment. 2023. Copernicus Publications.

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