Quantification and mapping of urban fluxes under climate change: Application of WRF-SUEWS model to Greater Porto area (Portugal)

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Climate change and the growth of urban populations are two of the main challenges facing Europe today. These issues are linked as climate change results in serious challenges for cities. Recent attention has focused on how urban surface-atmosphere exchanges of heat and water will be affected by climate change and the implications for urban planning and sustainability.

In this study energy fluxes for Greater Porto area, Portugal, were estimated and the influence of the projected climate change evaluated. To accomplish this, the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) and the Surface Urban Energy and Water Balance Scheme (SUEWS) were applied for two climatological scenarios: a present (or reference, 1986–2005) scenario and a future scenario (2046–2065), in this case the Representative Concentration Pathway RCP8.5, which reflects the worst set of expectations (with the most onerous impacts). The results show that for the future climate conditions, the incoming shortwave radiation will increase by around 10%, the sensible heat flux around 40% and the net storage heat flux around 35%. In contrast, the latent heat flux will decrease about 20%. The changes in the magnitude of the different fluxes result in an increase of the net all-wave radiation by 15%. The implications of the changes of the energy balance on the meteorological variables are discussed, particularly in terms of temperature and precipitation.

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