Did irrigation impact 20th century air temperature in the High Plains aquifer region?

Rezaul Mahmood, Travis Keeling, Stuart A. Foster, Kenneth G. Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study investigates potential impacts of widespread adoption of irrigation on long-term temperatures over the High Plains aquifer (HPA) region of the Great Plains. It is well known that availability of soil moisture can modify near surface energy partitioning (latent vs. sensible) and temperature. This study provides an assessment of the changes in the historical near surface temperature records in the HPA region due to adoption of irrigation. Long-term growing season mean monthly maximum and minimum air temperature data from 24 irrigated and 26 non-irrigated sites were analyzed. These stations are part of the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN). This study reports that growing season mean maximum temperature (GTmax) at irrigated areas is predominantly cooler than non-irrigated areas with up to 1.01 °C cooling at some locations. A geographical variation in magnitude of this cooling is also observed. The majority of irrigated locations report warming in GTmin with up to 1.00 °C increases. The results are largely statistically significant. This paper suggests more focus on regional- and local-scale studies is needed to better understand impacts of land use changes on climate change and variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Irrigation
  • Land use change
  • Temperature change
  • The great plains
  • The High Plains aquifer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Did irrigation impact 20th century air temperature in the High Plains aquifer region?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this