Land Cover Change, Surface Mining, and Their Impacts on a Heavy Rain Event in the Appalachia

William Rodgers, Rezaul Mahmood, Ronald Leeper, Jun Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


It is hypothesized that land cover change (LCC), driven by mountain top removal (MTR), in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky would change biogeophysical properties of land surface and subsequently various atmospheric boundary layer parameters and precipitation. In this research, we have conducted model-based sensitivity experiments of atmospheric response of a significant flash flood–producing rainfall event by modifying land cover and topography. These reflect recent LCC, including MTR. We have used the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model for this purpose. The study found changes in amount, location, and timing of precipitation. LCC also modified various surface fluxes, moist static energy, planetary boundary layer height, and local-scale wind circulation. This study reports that there was an increase in sensible heat flux (H) for bare soil simulation (post-MTR) compared to pre-MTR conditions (increased elevation with no altered land cover). Allowing for growth of vegetation, the grass simulation resulted in a decrease in H. With regard to latent heat flux (LE), there was a notable decrease from pre-MTR to post-MTR simulations. For the grass and forest simulations, LE increased and were comparable to the pre-MTR simulation. Under the pre-MTR condition, the total precipitation was at its highest level. For the simulated loss of vegetation (bare soil) and elevation (post-MTR), there was a decrease in precipitation. With grass land cover, precipitation increased in all areas of interest. Forest land cover resulted in slightly higher simulated precipitation than grass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1187-1209
Number of pages23
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • land use land cover change
  • modeling
  • mountain top removal
  • precipitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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