A multi-site model evaluation project for urban areas

Phase 1 results Download project scripts Download project protocol
Mathew Lipson (UNSW), Sue Grimmond (Reading), Martin Best (Met Office),
with observational and modelling participants.

Urban-PLUMBER will evaluate the performance of land surface models used in in meteorological or climatic simulations of urban areas. The project is open to any group that wishes to gain a better understanding of how their model performs in a wide range of urban environments.

Previous urban model evaluation projects have assessed how model complexity affects prediction of land-atmosphere energy exchange at two urban sites (Grimmond et al., 2010, 2011), and how coupled surface-atmosphere simulations differ from offline simulations (Steeneveld et al., 2017). In non-urban landscapes, the PLUMBER project introduced a framework for benchmarking models across many sites (Best et al., 2015).

Building on these methods, Urban-PLUMBER will ask:

  1. How have the last decade of model development affected performance?
  2. Where do different modelling approaches excel across the urbanised/vegetated continuum?
  3. How does more detailed morphology information affect model performance?
  4. Are models utilising available meteorological information effectively?


The project has two phases:

Who should get involved?

Modelling participants: Models able to predict neighbourhood-scale land-atmosphere radiant and turbulent heat exchanges from meteorological inputs. Both specialised urban land surface models and those without an explicit urban representation are invited. Read the modelling protocol for more information.

Observations participants: Local-scale urban flux tower observations are needed to both drive models and evaluate outputs. Read the observations requirements for more information

Those who provide modelling or observational data will be invited as authors on relevant papers.


Project resources

A series of scripts and resources are provided with the aim of making participation easier - especially for the multi-site phase. These include:

More information

Email met-urban-plumber@lists.reading.ac.uk to register your interest.

Read the modelling or observations protocols for detailed information.

View the available scripts and resources to help automate the multi-site phase.

Visit modelevaluation.org, a website used for distributing, submitting and evaluating project data.

Check the Q&A page for questions and clarifications on the project.

See the changelog listing any changes to project documents or resources.

Phase 2

Phase 2 of the project (beginning December 2020) will include a range of sites where appropriate urban flux tower observations are available.

Phase 2


We gratefully acknowledge those who have supported this project, provided valuable feedback and offered observational datasets including Ahmed Balogun, Alberto Martilli, Andreas Christen, Andres Simon, Andy Coutts, Andy Pitman, Aristofanis Tsiringakis, Aude Lemonsu, Beom-Soon Han, Chenghao Wang, Cécile De Munck, David Meyer, David Reed, Dieter Scherer, Doo-Il Lee, Eric Velasco, Fred Meier, Gab Abramowitz, Gabriel Manoli, Gert-Jan Steeneveld, Helen Ward, Hendrik Wouters, Hiroaki Kondo, Hirofumi Sugawara, Ian Strachan, Je-Woo Hong, Jenny Salmond, Jimmy Adegoke, Jinkyu Hong, Joe McFadden, Joe McNorton, Jong-Jin Baik, Junxia Dou, Keith Oleson, Kerry Nice, Kim Novick, Krzysztof Fortuniak, Leena Järvi, Lena Weissert, Maggie Hendry, Marcus Thatcher, Martin De Kauwe, Matthias Demuzere, Matthias Roth, Meiring Beyers, Michael Roth, Naika Meili, Nektarios Chrysoulakis, Nigel Tapper, Ning Zhang, Rachel Spronken-Smith, Robert Schoetter, Sang-Hyun Lee, Seung-Bu Park, Shiguang Miao, Simone Fatichi, Simone Kotthaus, Souhail Boussetta, Stevan Earl, Tiago Machado, Ting Sun, Valéry Masson, Winston Chow, Włodzimierz Pawlak, Yurong Shi, Yuya Takane, Zhihua Wang, Zutao Yang.


  1. Grimmond, C. S. B., Blackett, M., Best, M. J., Barlow, J., Baik, J.-J., Belcher, S. E., Bohnenstengel, S. I., Calmet, I., Chen, F., Dandou, A., Fortuniak, K., Gouvea, M. L., Hamdi, R., Hendry, M., Kawai, T., Kawamoto, Y., Kondo, H., Krayenhoff, E. S., Lee, S.-H. and Loridan, T.: The International Urban Energy Balance Models Comparison Project: First Results from Phase 1, Journal of Applied Meteorology & Climatology, 49(6), 1268–1292, doi:10.1175/2010JAMC2354.1, 2010.
  2. Grimmond, C. S. B., Blackett, M., Best, M. J., Baik, J.-J., Belcher, S. E., Beringer, J., Bohnenstengel, S. I., Calmet, I., Chen, F., Coutts, A., Dandou, A., Fortuniak, K., Gouvea, M. L., Hamdi, R., Hendry, M., Kanda, M., Kawai, T., Kawamoto, Y., Kondo, H., Krayenhoff, E. S., Lee, S.-H., Loridan, T., Martilli, A., Masson, V., Miao, S., Oleson, K., Ooka, R., Pigeon, G., Porson, A., Ryu, Y.-H., Salamanca, F., Steeneveld, G. j., Tombrou, M., Voogt, J. A., Young, D. T. and Zhang, N.: Initial results from Phase 2 of the international urban energy balance model comparison, International Journal of Climatology, 31(2), 244–272, doi:10.1002/joc.2227, 2011.
  3. Steeneveld, G., Tsiringakis, A., Barlow, J., Bohnenstengel, S., Grimmond, S., Halios, C., van Haren, R., Kotthaus, S., Masson, V., van den Oord, G. and others: Single-column urban boundary layer inter-comparison modelling experiment (SUBLIME): Call for participation, Urban Climate News: Quarterly Newsletter of the IAUC, 66, 21–26, 2017.
  4. Best, M. J., Abramowitz, G., Johnson, H. R., Pitman, A. J., Balsamo, G., Boone, A., Cuntz, M., Decharme, B., Dirmeyer, P. A., Dong, J., Ek, M., Guo, Z., Haverd, V., van den Hurk, B. J. J., Nearing, G. S., Pak, B., Peters-Lidard, C., Santanello, J. A., Stevens, L. and Vuichard, N.: The Plumbing of Land Surface Models: Benchmarking Model Performance, J. Hydrometeor, 16(3), 1425–1442, doi:10.1175/JHM-D-14-0158.1, 2015.