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A Numerical Study of the Urban Heat Island in the Coastal Tropical City of San Juan, Puerto Rico: Model Validation and Impacts of LCLU ChangesUrban sprawls in tropical locations are rapidly accelerating and it is more evident in islands where a large percentage of the population resides along the coasts. This paper focuses on the analysis of the impacts of land use and land cover for urbanization in the tropical coastal city of San Juan, in the tropical island of Puerto Rico. A mesoscale numerical model, the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS), is used to study specific characteristics and patterns of the urban heat island in the San Juan Metropolitan Area (SJMA), the most noticeable urban core of the Caribbean. The research present in this paper makes use of the observations obtained during the airborne San Juan Atlas Mission in two ways. First, surface and rawinsonde data are used to validate the atmospheric model yielding satisfactory results. Second, airborne remote sensing information is used to update the model's surface characteristics to obtain a detailed configuration of the SJMA in order to perform the LCLU changes impact analysis. This analysis showed that the presence of San Juan has an impact reflected in higher air temperatures over the area occupied by the city, with positive values of up to 2.5 C, for the simulations that have specified urban LCLU indexes in the bottom boundary. One interesting result of the impact analysis was the finding of a precipitation disturbance shown as a difference in total accumulated rainfall between simulation with the city and with a potential natural vegetation induced by the presence of the urban area. Model results indicate that the urban-induced cloud formation and precipitation development occur mainly downwind of the city, including the accumulated precipitation. This spatial pattern can be explained by the presence of a-larger urbanized area in the southwest sector of the city, and of the approaching northeasterly trade winds.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Comarazamy, Daniel E. (Santa Clara Univ. CA, United States)
Gonzalez, Jorge E. (Santa Clara Univ. CA, United States)
Luvall, Jeff (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Rickman, Douglas L. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2007
Subject Category
Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
Distribution Limits