The aim of this work is to simulate the Urban Heat Island (UHI) in a medium size Mediterranean city (Lecce, IT) and to analyze its consequences for thermal comfort. We use the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model (version 3.2), that accounts for the urban structure with a multilayer urban parameterization (BEP+BEM i.e. the Building Effect Parameterization (BEP) combined with the Building Energy Model (BEM)). Three hot and cloudless summer days have been simulated and results have been compared with field data collected during an experimental campaign performed over the whole summer in the city of Lecce, Italy. In the model, the structure and shape of the city are reproduced using detailed data related to different urban classes, urban fraction and building morphometry. For the residential urban classes, different thermal parameters that are representative of building materials in the oldest and the newer part of the city, are used. Results show that UHI reaches, on average, its maximum intensity (4–5 °C) just before sunrise, and its minimum (2 °C) occurs during the day. Model validation inferred through statistical analysis shows overall a better model performance for the historical city centre than for the suburban area. This suggests that further refinement of the building representation in the outskirts might still be required. Consequences of the increased urban temperature are evaluated in terms of thermal comfort. The maximum thermal stress occurs during the central hours of the day, while, the minimum thermal stress occurs during the twilight hours.

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