Outdoor water use for irrigation constitutes a substantial urban water flux yet its impact on the land surface remains poorly quantified. This study analyzes the impact of irrigation on land surface temperatures and the hydrologic regime of a large, semi-arid urban metropolis. Using remotely sensed products, municipal water use data, and simulations with a coupled land surface-hydrologic model we find significant impacts on both land surface temperatures and the hydrologic dynamics of the study domain, Los Angeles, CA. The analysis of remotely sensed land surface temperature finds a decrease of up to 3.2 ± 0.02 K between low and high irrigation areas of similar land cover. These temperature differences, caused by a human-induced flux, are on par with estimates of the urban heat island effect and regional warming trends; simulations are able to capture this difference but underestimate absolute values throughout. Assessment of change in irrigation volume and timing through simulations show that irrigation timing has a small impact (<±2%) on evapotranspiration and runoff. Furthermore, relatively low irrigation volumes push the semi-arid urban environment into a sub-humid regime.
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