Urban Meteorology Research

The observational part of our research is largely based on measurements carried out at the SMEAR III station located in Helsinki. We have two active sites, where the fluxes of CO2, H2O, heat and particles are measured using the eddy covariance (EC) technique (Fig. 1). The two sites represent different land uses: the semi-urban Kumpula (blue) has been running since 2004 (Vesala et al. 2008, Järvi et al. 2009) and the urban site, Hotel Torni (red, break in the measurements in 2020 due to building renovation),  since 2009 in the city centre representing a highly built-up land cover (Nordbo et al. 2013, Kurppa et al. 2015). Within the approximate footprint of the Kumpula site, half of the surface is covered with vegetation, whereas in city centre the fraction is only 22%. Kumpula is also ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System) associated ecosystem station. In addition to the long-term measurements, we have conducted several EC measurement campaigns related to other compounds like VOCs, CO and N2O.

With the aid of the observations, we try to understand how different urban land uses affect the surface exchange processes with particular emphasis on the role of vegetation. We have also extensive ecophysiological observations made in Helsinki area to understand in detail the gas exchange and functioning of urban vegetation. The observations are also used in urban land surface model development.

The current and past projects are

  • Pan-Eurasian Experiment (PEEX), 2015 - present
  • Integrated Carbon Observations System (ICOS), 2008 - present
  • The exchange of carbon dioxide, heat and water in urban areas, PI: Leena Järvi, The Academy of Finland post-doctoral fellow, 2010 - 2013
  • The FP7 project BRIDGE (sustainaBle uRban plannIng Decision support accountinG for urban mEtabolism), PI: Timo Vesala, 2007 - 2011
  • Micrometeorology and air quality in urban areas, PI: Leena Järvi, Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, 2007 - 2010

Figure: The locations of the two eddy covariance (EC) stations in Helsinki (Karsisto et al. 2015). The 1 km circular areas around the station approximate the source areas for the EC measurements.

We actively participate to the development of the Surface Urban Energy and Water Balance Scheme SUEWS (Järvi et al. 2011, 2019, Ward et al. 2016) in collaboration with the Prof. Sue Grimmond a the University of Reading. The model simulates the energy and water balance components and carbon dioxide surface exchange through the use of commonly measured meteorological variables and information on the surface cover in a neighborhood scale. The model is part of the Urban Multi-Scale Environmental Prediction Tool (UMEP, Lindberg et al. 2017). Besides model development, we use SUEWS to examine both long- and short-term behavior of the surface balances in different urban areas. Current study interests are on  carbon dioxide surface exchange  and improved parametererisation of particularly the biogenic components in urban areas. The current and past research projects are

Figure: Modelled energy balance at the urban site (Rl) in Montreal
during (a) cold snow, (b) warm snow and (c) snow-free periods in 2007-2008 using SUEWS (Järvi et al. 2014).

We develop and use the Large Eddy Simulation model PALM in collaboration with University of Hannover to examine the flow fields and air quality in Helsinki. We have added the sectional aerosol particle model (SALSA) in PALM so that it can be used to simulate aerosol particle size distribution within complex urban landscapes. Current research topics include the model performance of PALM-SALSA in different cities, impact of urban planning on local air quality and what is the effect of thermal turbulence on local dispersion and air quality. We also further develop the model to include more comprehensive aerosol dynamics. Current and past reseach projects are

  • Sustainable urban development emerging from the merger of cutting edge Climate, Social and Computer Sciences (CouSCOUS), PI: Laura Ruotsalainen, Academy of Finland, 2020-2024
  • Hienon resoluution ilmanlaatumallinnus kaupunkisuunnittelun tukena (Fine resolution air quality modelling as support of urban planning), PI: Leena Järvi, Helsinki Metropolitan Region Urban Research Program, 2017-2018
  • Towards reliable prediction of urban climate using novel methodology development, PI: Mikko Auvinen, Maj and Tor Nessling foundation, 2017-2018
  • Modelling air quality and ventilation inside city blocks using large-eddy simulations, PI: Mona Kurppa, Doctoral School in Atmospheric Sciences of the UHEL, 2017-2020
  • Effect of building structures on the ventilation of Helsinki city boulevards, PI: Antti Hellsten (FMI), Helsinki City Planning Department, 2016
  • Large eddy simulations of a realistic urban surface, PI: Timo Vesala, CSC Grand Challenge, 2014 - 2015

Figure: Flow field in central Helsinki as simulated using PALM model using detailed surface model (M. Auvinen).


Project Funding period Persons Funder
Individuals, communities and municipalities mitigating climate change by carbon smart green space (CO-CARBON) 2020-2023 Leena Järvi, Rosa Rantanen Strategic Reserach Council
Integrated Carbon Observations System (ICOS) 2008-present Leena Järvi Academy of Finland/Faculty of Science UHEL
Sustainable urban development emerging from the merger of cutting edge Climate, Social and Computer Sciences (CousCOUS) 2020-2024 Leena Järvi, Xiaoyu Li Academy of Finland
Urban green space solutions in carbon neutral cities (CarboCity) 2019-2023 Leena Järvi, Minttu Havu, Jani Strömberg Academy of Finland
The most optimal green area solutions in present day urban planning to maximise urban carbon stocks 2019-2023 Minttu Havu Tiina and Antti Herlin foundation
Associate professor starting package 2019-2022 Sasu Karttunen University of Helsinki
Smart urban solutions for air quality, disasters and city growth 2017-2021 Leena Järvi, Mona Kurppa ERA-PLANET
Modelling air quality and ventilation inside city blocks using large-eddy simulations 2017-2020 Mona Kurppa Doctoral School in Atmospheric Sciences of the UHEL
Fine resolution air quality modelling as support of urban planning 2017-2018 Leena Järvi, Mona Kurppa, Sasu Karttunen Helsinki Metropolitan Region Urban Research Program
Towards reliable prediction of urban climate using novel methodology development 2017-2018 Mikko Auvinen Maj and Tor Nessling foundation
Aerosols, Clouds and Trace Gases Research Infrastructure (ACTRIS-2) 2015-2019 Leena Järvi EU H2020
Modelling of the Surface energy and water balance in high-latitude cities 2014-2016 Tom Kokkonen Maj and Tor Nessling foundation
Carbon dioxide, heat and water exchanges in urban climate 2011-2013 Leena Järvi Academy of Finland
Micrometeorology and air quality in urban areas 2007-2010 Leena Järvi Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation


Our group collaborates with several research groups both nationally and internationally. The main collaborators for the current research topics are

  • Prof. Sue Grimmond, University of Reading, UK
  • Prof. Siegfried Raasch, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
  • Adj. Prof. Liisa Pirjola, Metropolia, University of Applied Sciences, Finland
  • Dr Topi Rönkkö, Tampere University of Technology, Finland
  • Dr Ari Karppinen, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland
  • Dr Antti Hellsten, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland
  • Prof. Huizi Liu, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • Dr Carl Fortelius, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Finland
  • Dr Helen Ward, University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • Ass. Prof. Joe Mcfadden, University of Santa Barbara, California, USA