Toward improved forecasts of sea-breeze horizontal convective rolls at super high resolutions. Part II: The impacts of land use and buildings

Guixing Chen, Xinyue Zhu, Weiming Sha, Toshiki Iwasaki, Hiromu Seko, Kazuo Saito, Hironori Iwai, Shoken Ishii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Horizontal convective rolls form in coastal areas around Sendai Airport during sea-breeze events. Using a building-resolving computational fluid dynamics model nested in an advanced forecast system with a data assimilation scheme, the authors perform a series of sensitivity experiments to investigate the impacts of land use and buildings on these rolls. The results show that the roll positions, intensities, and structures are significantly affected by variations in land use and the presence of buildings. Land-use heterogeneity is responsible for generating rolls with evident regional features. Major rolls tend to develop downwind of warm surfaces, and they dominate over neighboring rolls; thus, a heterogeneity-scale mode is imposed on the inherent roll wavelength. The roll's rapid growth is attributable to warm surfaces that initiate a strong coupling among turbulent thermals, convective updrafts, pressure perturbations, and secondary flows in sea breezes. The heterogeneity-induced features differ considerably from the nearly homogeneous features that form over uniform surfaces. Additionally, the wake flow behind buildings helps organize near-surface warm air into streamwise bands that drive streaky ejections. The building-induced turbulence acts to modify secondary flows and displace roll updrafts toward building wakes. Such effects are most effective over villages with scattered houses that are aligned with the ambient wind. Building signatures are elongated in downwind open areas due to sustained secondary circulations. An analysis of turbulent kinetic energy shows that both land use and buildings regulate energy generation and transport, resulting in a clear response in roll growth. Thus, including complex surfaces in forecast models helps determine detailed characteristics and structures of roll convection over coastal regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1873-1894
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Boundary layer
  • Convection
  • Land use
  • Numerical weather prediction/forecasting
  • Sea breezes
  • Urban meteorology


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