Monday, 12 January 2009
Assessing the influence of land development patterns on regional climate using regional circulation models
Hall 5 (Phoenix Convention Center)
Previous research using numerical models analyzed the possible impact of long-term anthropogenic land-cover change on regional climate of the Florida Peninsula during summertime. Most of the 90-year period land use changes in that study were due the transformation of natural forest and wetlands into agricultural lands. In this research, our objective was to explore how sensible regional climate is to land-cover changes resulting from transforming forest and agricultural lands to land development for urban and suburban housing. Two current scenarios of land development based on the Central Florida Regional Growth Vision projected to 2050 were evaluated. The first scenario was based on the current trend where more development will be carried out in rural and sensitive environmental areas. The second scenario was based on land development occurring within current cities and unincorporated population centers connected by corridors, thereby conserving countryside and sensitive environments. To achieve this objective, a series of simulation experiments were conducted using the Urban-parameterized Florida State University/Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (FSU/COAPS) Regional Spectral Model coupled to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) community Land Model (CLM2). Significant differences in simulated regional climate patterns were found between the land development scenarios, differences that would potentially influence population requirements of water and energy. The aggregated effect of land cover changes over large suburban areas produced a more intense heat island effect than the one produced by high density urban areas. Although this research is based on simulation experiments, results showed the sensitivity of regional climate to land development, and the possibility to take into account potential impacts of development on local and regional climate conditions.