The effect of land cover/land use changes on the regional climate of the USA high plains

Denis Mutiibwa, Ayse Kilic, Suat Irmak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We present the detection of the signatures of land use/land cover (LULC) changes on the regional climate of the US High Plains. We used the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) as a proxy of LULC changes and atmospheric CO2 concentrations as a proxy of greenhouse gases. An enhanced signal processing procedure was developed to detect the signatures of LULC changes by integrating autoregression and moving average (ARMA) modeling and optimal fingerprinting technique. The results, which are representative of the average spatial signatures of climate response to LULC change forcing on the regional climate of the High Plains during the 26 years of the study period (1981-2006), show a significant cooling effect on the regional temperatures during the summer season. The cooling effect was attributed to probable evaporative cooling originating from the increasing extensive irrigation in the region. The external forcing of atmospheric CO2 was included in the study to suppress the radiative warming effect of greenhouse gases, thus, enhancing the LULC change signal. The results show that the greenhouse gas radiative warming effect in the region is significant, but weak, compared to the LULC change signal. The study demonstrates the regional climatic impact of anthropogenic induced atmospheric-biosphere interaction attributed to LULC change, which is an additional and important climate forcing in addition to greenhouse gas radiative forcing in High Plains region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-167
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • ARMA modeling
  • Climate change
  • Landuse/landcover
  • Optimal fingerprinting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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