85th AMS Annual Meeting

Wednesday, 12 January 2005
CLIP: Modeling Land Use Change and Precipitation in Eastern Africa
Nathan J. Moore, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; and B. M. Lofgren and J. Andresen
Changes in economic and societal forces have triggered an explosion of agriculture across much of eastern Africa, particularly in the highlands of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The Climate-Land Interaction Project (CLIP) is investigating the confluence of cultural and climate changes in order to estimate future impacts of aggressively expanding agriculture, large population shifts, and dramatic alterations to the energy and water balances in the region. The analysis has been divided into three phases: traditional land use (pre-1990s), modern (2000-2005) and projected (2025-2030). Land use models (e.g. MABEL, LTM) will be driven by economic measurements and forecasts to provide inputs into a regional atmospheric model (RAMS), along with satellite observations and other in situ data.

One of the primary difficulties in any atmospheric model arises from characterizing the surface conditions/fluxes. This study encompasses a data-poor region with very weak characterization of upper air profiles; surface conditions that may drive convection and precipitation can only be parameterized and extrapolated from ground surveys. Under the expected increased-irrigation regimes, it is expected that surface heterogeneities in latent and sensible heat fluxes may aid the development of convective storms. However, many other processes (e.g. monsoons, orographic precipitation) have the capability to mask the role of landscape heterogeneity and make the related precipitation difficult to isolate. We will also look at the magnitudes and areal extent of land cover change that could lead to significant changes in the monsoon—i.e., at some point, the monsoon will no longer simply mask the more local effects of land cover change, but will be driven in part by the land cover change. Here we present some initial problems encountered in modeling East African precipitation along with some potential solutions to aspects of the water and energy balances.

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