The role of land use change on the development and evolution of the west coast trough, convective clouds, and precipitation in southwest Australia

Udaysankar Nair, Y Wu, J Kala, T Lyons, R Pielke Sr, Jorg Hacker

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    37 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Land clearing for agricultural purposes in southwest Australia has created a landscape where a 750 km rabbit-proof fence separates 13 million hectares of croplands from the remnant native vegetation to the east. The Bunny Fence Experiment (BuFex) was conducted in the vicinity of the intended vermin-proof boundary in December 2005 and August 2007. The experiment examined the role of land cover change (LCC) on the preferential formation of clouds over the native vegetation that often terminates along the vermin-proof fence as well as the regional rainfall reduction observed in this region. Observations and numerical model analysis show that the formation and development of the west coast trough (WCT), which is a synoptic-scale feature that initiates spring and summertime convection, is impacted by land cover change and that the cloud fields induced by the WCT would extend farther west in the absence of the LCC. The surface convergence patterns associated with the wintertime WCT circulation are substantially altered by LCC, due to changes in both WCT dynamics and surface aerodynamic roughness, leading to a rainfall decrease to the west of the rabbit fence. Although this study focuses on only two events, it further illustrates that LCC has significant regional impacts in southwest Western Australia regardless of large-scale shifts in the climate system.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberD07103
    Pages (from-to)D07103
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
    Volume116
    Issue number7
    Early online date2011
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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