Expert Report

Urban Meteorology: Forecasting, Monitoring, and Meeting Users' Needs (2012)

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Although all weather is driven by large scale weather patterns, the characteristics of urban settings—such as buildings of varying heights and large areas of paved streets and parking lots—can generate a unique urban weather environment. Given that three out of five people worldwide are expected to live in an urban environment by 2030, accurately forecasting urban weather is becoming increasingly important to protect these densely-populated areas from the impacts of adverse weather events. Currently, the diverse needs of users of meteorological data in the urban setting, such as emergency managers and urban planners, are not being well met by the scientific community, mainly because of limited communication between the two communities. A clear mechanism to help the urban meteorological community better identify user groups, reach out to them, and maintain an ongoing dialogue would lead to better urban weather forecasting and planning in the future.

Key Messages

  • Users of urban meteorological information need high-quality information available in a wide variety of formats that foster its use, within time constraints set by users' decision processes. By advancing the science and technology related to urban meteorology with input from key end user communities, urban meteorologists can better meet the needs of diverse end users.
  • A clear mechanism to help the urban meteorological community better identify user groups, reach out to them, and begin an ongoing dialogue to assess and better meet their needs has yet to be identified.
  • To continue the advancement within the field of urban meteorology, there are both short-term needs, which might be addressed with small investments but promise large, quick returns, as well as future challenges that could require significant efforts and investments.
  • Short-Term Needs include maximum access to observational data in different categories from diverse sources, regularly updated metadata of the urban observations using standardized urban protocols, continued and expanded international urban model intercomparisons over urban areas; and development and application of best practices to strengthen the dialog between meteorologists and end user communities.
  • Challenges include developing and implementing new capabilities for urban observations, particularly using the network of personal digital assistants (PDAs; including smartphones) and vehicles and new technologies for measurements in the whole planetary boundary layer; urbanizing weather and climate models and urban areas in model prediction evaluation and validation metrics; and developing capabilities for integrated urban meteorology-decision support systems be developed?