Climate Dynamics | 2021

Climate change over UK cities: the urban influence on extreme temperatures in the UK climate projections



Increasing summer temperatures in a warming climate will increase the exposure of the UK population to heat-stress and associated heat-related mortality. Urban inhabitants are particularly at risk, as urban areas are often significantly warmer than rural areas as a result of the urban heat island phenomenon. The latest UK Climate Projections include an ensemble of convection-permitting model (CPM) simulations which provide credible climate information at the city-scale, the first of their kind for national climate scenarios. Using a newly developed urban signal extraction technique, we quantify the urban influence on present-day (1981–2000) and future (2061–2080) temperature extremes in the CPM compared to the coarser resolution regional climate model (RCM) simulations over UK cities. We find that the urban influence in these models is markedly different, with the magnitude of night-time urban heat islands overestimated in the RCM, significantly for the warmest nights (up to 4∘\\documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \\usepackage{amsmath} \\usepackage{wasysym} \\usepackage{amsfonts} \\usepackage{amssymb} \\usepackage{amsbsy} \\usepackage{mathrsfs} \\usepackage{upgreek} \\setlength{\\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \\begin{document}$$4~^{\\circ }$$\\end{document}C), while the CPM agrees much better with observations. This improvement is driven by the improved land-surface representation and more sophisticated urban scheme MORUSES employed by the CPM, which distinguishes street canyons and roofs. In future, there is a strong amplification of the urban influence in the RCM, whilst there is little change in the CPM. We find that future changes in soil moisture play an important role in the magnitude of the urban influence, highlighting the importance of the accurate representation of land-surface and hydrological processes for urban heat island studies. The results indicate that the CPM provides more reliable urban temperature projections, due at least in part to the improved urban scheme.

Volume 57
Pages 3583 - 3597
DOI 10.1007/s00382-021-05883-w
Language English
Journal Climate Dynamics

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