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Simulated atmospheric response to four projected land-use land-cover change scenarios for 2050 in the north-central United States

October 5, 2021

Land-use land-cover change (LULCC) has become an important topic of research for the central United States because of the extensive conversion of the natural prairie into agricultural land, especially in the northern Great Plains. As a result, shifts in the natural climate (minimum/maximum temperature, precipitation, etc.) across the north-central United States have been observed, as noted within the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) report. Thus, it is necessary to understand how further LULCC will affect the near-surface atmosphere, the lower troposphere, and the planetary boundary layer (PBL) atmosphere over this region. The goal of this work was to investigate the utility of a new future land-use land-cover (LULC) dataset within the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) modeling system. The present study utilizes a modeled future land-use dataset developed by the Forecasting Scenarios of Land-Use Change (FORE-SCE) model to investigate the influence of future (2050) land use on a simulated PBL development within the WRF Model. Three primary areas of LULCC were identified within the FORE-SCE future LULC dataset across Nebraska and South Dakota. Variations in LULC between the 2005 LULC control simulation and four FORE-SCE simulations affected near-surface temperature (0.5°–1°C) and specific humidity (0.3–0.5 g kg−1). The differences noted in the temperature and moisture fields affected the development of the simulated PBL, leading to variations in PBL height and convective available potential energy. Overall, utilizing the FORE-SCE dataset within WRF produced notable differences relative to the control simulation over areas of LULCC represented in the FORE-SCE dataset.