Eighth Conference on Coastal Atmospheric and Oceanic Prediction and Processes
Eighth Symposium on the Urban Environment


Cooling summer daytime temperatures in two urban coastal California air basins during 1948–2005: observations and implications

R. Bornstein, San Jose State Univ., San Jose, CA; and B. Lebassi, E. P. Maurer, P. Switzer, and J. E. Gonzalez

The study evaluated long-term (1948-2005) air temperatures in California (CA) during summer (June-August, JJA). The aggregate CA results showed asymmetric warming, as daily min temperatures increased faster than daily max temperatures. The spatial distributions of daily max JJA temperatures in the heavily urbanized South Coast and San Francisco Bay Area air basins, however, exhibited a complex pattern, with cooling at low-elevation (mainly urban) coastal-areas and warming at (mainly rural) inland areas. Previous studies have suggested that cooling summer max temperatures in CA were due to increased irrigation, coastal upwelling, or cloud cover.

The current hypothesis, however, is that this temperature pattern arises from a “reverse-reaction” to greenhouse gas (GHG) induced global-warming. In this hypothesis, the global warming of inland areas resulted in an increased (cooling) sea breeze activity in coastal areas. The coastal cooling thus resulted as urban heat island (UHI) warming was weaker than the reverse-reaction cooling; if there was no UHI effect, then the cooling would be even stronger.

Average temperatures from global circulation models show warming that decreases from inland areas of California to its coastal areas. Such large scale models, however, cannot resolve these smaller scale topographic and coastal effects. Meso-scale modeling on a 4 km grid is thus being carried out to evaluate the contributions from GHG global-warming and land-use changes, UHI development, to the observed trends. Significant societal impacts may result from this observed reverse-reaction to GHG-warming; possible beneficial effects include decreased max: ozone levels, human thermal-stress, and per-capita energy requirements for cooling.

wrf recording  Recorded presentation

Joint Session 21, Weather and Climate in Coastal Urban Areas—I
Thursday, 15 January 2009, 8:30 AM-9:45 AM, Room 126A

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