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Sensitivity of summer climate to anthropogenic land-cover change over the Greater Phoenix, AZ, region

January 1, 2008

This work evaluates the first-order effect of land-use/land-cover change (LULCC) on the summer climate of one of the nation's most rapidly expanding metropolitan complexes, the Greater Phoenix, AZ, region. High-resolution-2-km grid spacing-Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) simulations of three "wet" and three "dry" summers were carried out for two different land-cover reconstructions for the region: a circa 1992 representation based on satellite observations, and a hypothetical land-cover scenario where the anthropogenic landscape of irrigated agriculture and urban pixels was replaced with current semi-natural vegetation. Model output is evaluated with respect to observed air temperature, dew point, and precipitation. Our results suggest that development of extensive irrigated agriculture adjacent to the urban area has dampened any regional-mean warming due to urbanization. Consistent with previous observationally based work, LULCC produces a systematic increase in precipitation to the north and east of the city, though only under dry conditions. This is due to a change in background atmospheric stability resulting from the advection of both warmth from the urban core and moisture from the irrigated area. ?? 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.