Observing and modeling the nocturnal park cool island of an arid city: Horizontal and vertical impacts

Winston T L Chow, Ronald L. Pope, Chris Martin, Anthony J. Brazel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


We examined the horizontal and vertical nocturnal cooling influence of a small park with irrigated lawn and xeric surfaces (~3 ha) within a university campus of a hot arid city. Temperature data from 0.01- to 3-m heights observed during a bicycle traverse of the campus were combined with modeled spatial temperature data simulated from a three-dimensional microclimate model (ENVI-met 3.1). A distinct park cool island, with mean observed magnitudes of 0.7-3.6°C, was documented for both traverse and model data with larger cooling intensities measured closer to surface level. Modeled results possessed varying but generally reasonable accuracy in simulating both spatial and temporal temperature data, although some systematic errors exist. A combination of several factors, such as variations in surface thermal properties, urban geometry, building orientation, and soil moisture, was likely responsible for influencing differential urban and non-urban near-surface temperatures. A strong inversion layer up to 1 m over non-urban surfaces was detected, contrasting with near-neutral lapse rates over urban surfaces. A key factor in the spatial expansion of the park cool island was the advection of cooler park air to adjacent urban surfaces, although this effect was mostly concentrated from 0- to 1-m heights over urban surfaces that were more exposed to the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-211
Number of pages15
JournalTheoretical and Applied Climatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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