The land surface temperature (LST) in arid regions is a primary controller of many ecological processes. Consequently, we have developed a framework for detection of LST change on a regional scale using data sets covering all deserts of southern California from the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite sensor. The Breaks for Additive Season and Trend (BFAST) methodology was applied to MODIS 1-km monthly LST data from the years 2000 to 2018 to estimate significant time series shifts (breakpoints) and gradual trends. Area-wide results showed five times more positive LST breakpoints (abrupt temperature warming events) than negative (surface cooling) breakpoints. Cross-correlations with high rainfall periods around Mojave dry lake playas, and comparison with timing of wildfire burns for breakpoint patterns, showed that abrupt shifts in LST had the strongest response to these controllers. We detected negative LST (abrupt cooling) breakpoints as consistently associated with the construction of new solar energy facilities. Over the majority of the study area, BFAST results showed warming LST trends between the years 2000 and 2018. The western-most margins of the study area showed consistent widespread warming trends, whereas the eastern portions of the Mojave and Lower Colorado Deserts showed a mix of positive and neutral LST trends. Long-term cooling LST trends were detected only in some of the largest dry lake formations in the Antelope Valley, Death Valley, and Bristol, Cadiz, and Danby playas.
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