Impacts of Large-Scale Urbanization and Irrigation on Summer Precipitation in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States

Jianfeng Li, Yun Qian, L. Ruby Leung, Zhe Feng, Chandan Sarangi, Ying Liu, Zhao Yang

Department of Energy, Office of Science, Earth & Environmental Systems Modeling Program Acknowledged Support: Yes, Regional & Global Model Analysis and MultiSector Dynamics Programs



This study investigates how urbanization and irrigation in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains affect summer precipitation in the Mid-Atlantic region (MAR) using convection-permitting regional model simulations with/without urbanization or irrigation. A feature tracking algorithm is used to identify precipitation from mesoscale convective systems (MCSs), isolated deep convection (IDC), and non-convective systems (NC). Overall, urbanization suppresses all three types of precipitation in the MAR by reducing water vapor content and convective available potential energy, while irrigation enhances IDC and NC precipitation but suppresses MCS precipitation. Examination of the MCS and IDC initiation locations indicates that irrigation suppresses MAR precipitation produced by MCSs initiated in the Great Plains and Midwest (GP) but enhances MAR precipitation from MCSs initiated locally within the region. Irrigation induces a mid-level cyclonic circulation anomaly centering in the Southeast, hindering the eastward propagation and development of MCSs from the GP.

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