Sixth Symposium on the Urban Environment


Projected regional climate changes in 2025 Houston due to urban growth

J. Marshall Shepherd, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD

Is Urbanization the “next” carbon dioxide for climate change? The answer to this question is likely no, but there is increasing evidence that urbanization can have a significant feedback on the climate system. Furthermore, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program has identified land use change as one of the key forcing functions with a large degree of uncertainty. Our approach is to determine future regional weather-climate scenarios based on anticipated urban growth, in a manner analogous to current carbon dioxide projection scenarios. We use an urban growth model to project the urban growth of Houston, Texas from 1992 to 2025. Then, we initialize a mesoscale atmospheric-land surface model with the 2025 urban land use scenario. Our results indicate that regional cloud, precipitation, and temperatures will be significantly different in the coastal-urban region around Houston under current project growth scenarios for urban land use only. These findings have implications for ongoing discussions on what factors will contribute to changes in climate and Earth's water cycle processes.

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Session 3, cities as agents of global change
Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 8:30 AM-11:45 AM, A315

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