Understanding and predicting climate changes at the urban scale have been an important yet challenging problem in environmental engineering. The lack of reliable long-term observations at the urban scale makes it difficult to even assess past climate changes. Numerical modeling plays an important role in filling the gap of observation and predicting future changes. Numerical studies on the climatic effect of desert urbanization have focused on basic meteorological fields such as temperature and wind. For desert cities, urban expansion can lead to substantial changes in the local production of wind-blown dust, which have implications for air quality and public health. This study expands the existing framework of numerical simulation for desert urbanization to include the computation of dust generation related to urban land-use changes. This is accomplished by connecting a suite of numerical models, including a meso-scale meteorological model, a land-surface model, an urban canopy model, and a turbulence model, to produce the key parameters that control the surface fluxes of wind-blown dust. Those models generate the near-surface turbulence intensity, soil moisture, and land-surface properties, which are used to determine the dust fluxes from a set of laboratory-based empirical formulas. This framework is applied to a series of simulations for the desert city of Erbil across a period of rapid urbanization. The changes in surface dust fluxes associated with urbanization are quantified. An analysis of the model output further reveals the dependence of surface dust fluxes on local meteorological conditions. Future applications of the models to environmental prediction are discussed.
- Modeling the effect of urbanization on climate and dust generation over desert cities