Another Paper That Documents An Effect Of Urbanization On Weather and Climate

We have another new paper which documents the role of landscape change on weather and climate. It is

Gero, A.F., A.J. Pitman, G.T. Narisma, C. Jacobson, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2006: The impact of land cover change on storms in the Sydney Basin. Global and Planetary Change, 54, 57-78.

The abstract reads

“This study has used a numerical model (RAMS) at 1 km horizontal grid intervals over the Sydney Basin to assess the impact of land cover change on storms. Multiple storms using the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis data were simulated with pre-European settlement land cover then re-simulated with land cover representing Sydney’s current land use pattern. While all simulated storms did not respond to the change in land cover consistently, storms of similar types responded in comparable ways. All simulated synoptically forced storms (e.g. those triggered by cold fronts) were unresponsive to a changed land surface, while local convective storms were highly sensitive to the triggering mechanism associated with land surface influences. Storms travelling over the smoother agricultural land in the south-west of the Sydney Basin experienced an increase in velocity, and in a special case, the dense urban surface of Sydney’s city core appears to trigger an intense convective storm. It is shown that the dynamical setting predominantly triggers storm outbreaks. This is seen most clearly in the isolated convective storm category where the sea breeze front often dictates the location of storm cell initiation.

Among the conclusions is the statement that,

“The significance of the results presented here extends beyond the scope of the regional climate modeling community. This study has raised issues regarding the scale of landscape heterogeneity and the potential of sufficiently large patches of uniform land cover to contribute to storm sensitivity, as well as the potential of urban areas to enhance storms.”

This paper is yet another example of why the focus on a global averaged surface temperature trend as THE climate change metric is inadequate in terms of the actual information that policymakers need.

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