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.
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