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Biophysical Impacts of Land Use Change over North America as Simulated by the Canadian Regional Climate Model

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Centre pour l’Ètude et la Simulation du Climat à l’Échelle Régionale (ESCER), Département des Sciences de la Terre et de l’Atmosphère, Université de Québec à Montréal, Montréal, CP 8888, succursale Centre ville. Montréal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
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Climate and Atmospheric Sciences Institute (CASI), Department of Earth Sciences, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Robinson I. Negron-Juarez
Atmosphere 2016, 7(3), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos7030034
Received: 4 November 2015 / Revised: 11 February 2016 / Accepted: 19 February 2016 / Published: 26 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land Carbon Sequestration and Climate: Present and Future)
This study investigates the biophysical impacts of human-induced land use change (LUC) on the regional climate of North America, using the fifth generation Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM5). To this end, two simulations are performed with CRCM5 using different land cover datasets, one corresponding to the potential vegetation and the other corresponding to current land use, spanning the 1988–2012 period, driven by European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Re-Analysis (ERA)-Interim at the lateral boundaries. Comparison of the two suggests higher albedo values, and therefore cooler temperatures, over the LUC regions, in the simulation with LUC, in winter. This is due to the absence of crops in winter, and also possibly due to a snow-mediated positive feedback. Some cooling is observed in summer for the simulation with LUC, mostly due to the higher latent heat fluxes and lower sensible heat fluxes over eastern US. Precipitation changes for these regions are not statistically significant. Analysis of the annual cycles for two LUC regions suggests that the impact of LUC on two meter temperature, evapotranspiration, soil moisture and precipitation are present year round. However, the impact on runoff is mostly restricted to the snowmelt season. This study thus highlights regions and variables most affected by LUC over North America. View Full-Text
Keywords: biophysical impacts; land use change; regional climate modeling; North America biophysical impacts; land use change; regional climate modeling; North America
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Chacón, A.; Sushama, L.; Beltrami, H. Biophysical Impacts of Land Use Change over North America as Simulated by the Canadian Regional Climate Model. Atmosphere 2016, 7, 34.

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