Modeling the urban climate at the human scale in hot/dry regions

Modeling the Urban Climate at the Human Scale in Hot/Dry Regions
Dr. Benjamin L. Ruddell
Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering, Arizona State University
Although most of the human impacts of global and local climate change will be felt in cities, and despite
the fact that the connections between the sustainability of human health and economics, water, and
energy are arguably the strongest in cities, our descriptive and modeling capabilities for the Earth
System remain relatively weak at the critical "human scale" at or below 100 meters at which the urban
environment is built and managed and at which people live their lives.
A project funded by the Earth Systems Modeling (EaSM, of the NSF's SEES Initiative) program is
demonstrating the computational feasibility and empirically validated accuracy of a coupled tRIBS/WRF
model for regional climate model downscaling and microclimate modeling at 100m urban neighborhood
scales. Unique urban microclimate observational data is utilized for model development and validation.
The resulting coupled model will have the potential to transform urban microclimate modeling and
urban climate change adaptation decision making through the analysis and distribution of neighborhood
(and smaller scale) data.
Working results of modeling and observational efforts are presented for applications in the Phoenix
metropolitan area. This type of model will provide a tool for designing urban neighborhoods that are
resilient in scenarios of climate and economic change, optimizing tradeoffs between water, energy,
environmental, and social outcomes.