92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Thursday, 26 January 2012
Annual Land Cover Change Impacts on Mount Kilimanjaro
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Jonathan G. Fairman Jr., Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and U. S. Nair and S. A. Christopher

Glacier recession on Kilimanjaro has been linked to reduction in precipitation and cloudiness largely due to large scale changes in tropical climate. Prior research has shown that land use change can alter the local patterns and elevational distribution of cloud cover and precipitation via changes in upwind temperature, moisture, and wind speed but are limited in time to one month during the dry season, which does not address effects on convective activity on the peak due to limited cloud cover and zero rainfall at high elevations. This study uses the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System to simulate orographic cloudiness, rainfall and orographic flow patterns over Kilimanjaro for current, completely deforested and reforested land cover scenarios at one kilometer grid spacing for one year, ranging from July 2007 through June 2008. On average, total deforestation causes temperature increases of 0.1-0.2 K at elevations from 2000-3000 m, along with moisture decreases up to 0.2 g/kg. Wind speeds are uniformly increased over deforested areas by values up to 1 m/s, causing an increase in convergence leading to enhanced vertical velocity. Clouds occur less frequently on average with less forested area; however there is little difference in cloud frequency at elevations over 4000 m. Factors governing orographic convection such as surface level moisture availability, temperature, and wind speed are examined for times of cloud and precipitation occurrence at elevations exceeding 5000 m for these three land cover scenarios. Both the reforested and deforested scenarios increase precipitation at the peak compared to the current day, but because of differing processes. Afforestation increases local precipitation generation via strengthening the thermal circulation. In contrast, complete deforestation causes a greater dependence on high synoptic moisture availability, which combined with enhanced updrafts leads to more precipitation occurring at elevations exceeding 5000 m.

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