Effects of urbanization on precipitation in Beijing

Elsevier, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Volume 122, June 2021
Liu J., Schlunzen K.H., Frisius T., Tian Z.

Since the 1980s, the industrialization and urbanization of the Beijing area has entered a period of high-speed growth. This paper asks the question: How have such great changes in urban land-use over the past decades impacted urban precipitation? In this study, we investigate and analyze the effects of urbanization on the summer precipitation in Beijing using numerical modeling approaches. Applying the numerical mesoscale atmospheric model METRAS, we determine the impact of surface cover on 13 heavy precipitation events. We implement five idealized land-use scenarios: Reference scenario, No-urban scenario, High-building scenario, Urban-expand scenario, and No-vegetation scenario. There is nearly no difference in the mean precipitation sum across all 13 simulated rain events and between the urban-scenarios and the rural-scenario. We find effects of urbanization on precipitation only in some single cases. We conclude urbanization does effect the local precipitation of Beijing; it reduces rainfall in the urban area and increases rainfall downwind of the city. In some cases, larger percentage of sealed area could give rise to the heavier precipitation or extreme rain events. And we conclude the urban pattern significantly impacts rainfall area and intensity. Increased urban size or density may speed up rain clouds while increased urban height may disrupt or bifurcate the clouds. Our results offer a new viewpoint and further the study of urban impacts on precipitation (UIP). The results are important for sustainable and harmonious development of the economy, society, and environment in Beijing as well as other cities with rapid urbanization.