Irrigated Agriculture Significantly Modifies Seasonal Boundary Layer Atmosphere and Lower-Tropospheric Convective Environment

Emilee Lachenmeier, Rezaul Mahmood, Chris Phillips, Udaysankar Nair, Eric Rappin, Roger A. Pielke, William Brown, Steve Oncley, Joshua Wurman, Karen Kosiba, Aaron Kaulfus, Joseph Santanello, Edward Kim, Patricia Lawston-Parker, Michael Hayes, Trenton E. Franz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Modification of grasslands into irrigated and nonirrigated agriculture in the Great Plains resulted in significant impacts on weather and climate. However, there has been lack of observational data–based studies solely focused on impacts of irrigation on the PBL and convective conditions. The Great Plains Irrigation Experiment (GRAINEX), conducted during the 2018 growing season, collected data over irrigated and nonirrigated land uses over Nebraska to understand these impacts. Spe-cifically, the objective was to determine whether the impacts of irrigation are sustained throughout the growing season. The data analyzed include latent and sensible heat flux, air temperature, dewpoint temperature, equivalent temperature (moist enthalpy), PBL height, lifting condensation level (LCL), level of free convection (LFC), and PBL mixing ratio. Results show increased par-titioning of energy into latent heat relative to sensible heat over irrigated areas while average maximum air temperature was de-creased and dewpoint temperature was increased from the early to peak growing season. Radiosonde data suggest reduced planetary boundary layer (PBL) heights at all launch sites from the early to peak growing season. However, reduction of PBL height was much greater over irrigated areas than over nonirrigated croplands. Relative to the early growing period, LCL and LFC heights were also lower during the peak growing period over irrigated areas. Results note, for the first time, that the impacts of irrigation on PBL evolution and convective environment can be sustained throughout the growing season and regard-less of background atmospheric conditions. These are important findings and applicable to other irrigated areas in the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-262
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Atmosphere–land interaction
  • Biosphere–atmosphere interaction
  • Boundary layer
  • Convection
  • Land use
  • Mesoscale processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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