Impacts of future urban expansion on urban heat island effects during heatwave events in the city of Melbourne in southeast Australia

Hosen M. Imran, Jatin Kala, Anne W.M. Ng, Shobha Muthukumaran

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Abstract

The city of Melbourne in southeast Australia is planning to expand urban areas substantially by the year 2050 and this expansion has the potential to alter the Urban Heat Island (UHI), that is, higher temperatures in urban areas as compared to surrounding rural areas. Moreover, Melbourne has been experiencing more frequent heatwaves for last two decades, and the intensity and duration of heatwaves is expected to increase in the future, which could exacerbate the UHI. This study evaluates the potential impacts of future urban expansion on the urban meteorology in Melbourne city during four of the most severe heatwave events during the period 2000–2009. Urban expansion is implemented as high-density urban with a high urban fraction of 0.9 to investigate the maximum possible impact. Simulations are carried out using the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with the Single-Layer Urban Canopy Model with current land-use and future urban expansion scenarios. Urban expansion increases the near-surface (2-m) UHI (UHI2) by 0.75 to 2.80 °C and the skin-surface UHI (UHIsk) by 1.9 to 5.4 °C over the expanded urban areas during the night, with no changes in existing urban areas. No substantial changes in UHI2 and UHIsk occur during the day over both existing and expanded urban areas. This is largely driven by changes in the storage heat flux, with an increase in storage heat at night and a decrease during the day; that is, excess storage heat accumulated during the day is released at night, which causes a slower decrease of near-surface temperature and increase in the UHI. Urban expansion did not affect human thermal comfort (HTC) in existing urban areas and there were no marked differences in HTC between existing and expanded urban areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2586-2602
Number of pages17
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Volume145
Issue number723
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes

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