Geography & Environment Publications

The Canopy and Aerosol Particles Interactions in TOulouse Urban Layer (CAPITOUL) Experiment

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Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics

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The CAPITOUL experiment is a joint experimental effort in urban climate, including the energetic exchanges between the surface and the atmosphere, the dynamics of the boundary layer over the city and its interactions with aerosol chemistry. The campaign took place in the city of Toulouse in southwest France, for one year, from February 2004 to February 2005. This allowed the study of both the day-to-day and seasonal variability of urban climate processes. The observational network included surface stations (meteorology, energy balance, chemistry), profilers and, during intensive observing periods, aircraft and balloons.

The urban Surface Energy Balance differs between summer and winter: in summer, the solar heat stored during the previous daytime period is enough to maintain the heat release at night, but in winter, almost all the energy comes from the anthropogenic heat released by space heating. Both processes produce the well known Urban Heat Island (UHI).

The city is shown to impact the entire boundary layer on specific days, when an urban breeze is observed. In wintertime, fog is found to be modified due to the vertical structure of the nocturnal boundary layer above the city (which is slightly unstable and not stable).

The measurements of aerosol properties in and downwind the city permitted documentation of the urban aerosol as well as the chemical transformation of these aerosols, in particular the ageing of carbonaceous aerosols during transport. The Toulouse aerosol is mainly composed of carbonaceous particles. There is important seasonal variation in the ratio of black carbon to organic carbon, in the concentration of sulfates and nitrates and in the related radiative aerosol impacts.

SF6 was released as a tracer in a suburban area of Toulouse during anticyclonic conditions with weak winds. The tracer measurements show dispersion was mainly driven by the surface sensible heat flux, and was highly sensitive to the urban heat island and also to the transport of boundary layer clouds. Modeling was fully integrated into the campaign. Surface energy balance and urban boundary layer processes have already been used to complement the analyses of the physical processes observed during the campaign. Companion papers detail most of these observation or modeling studies.

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