thumbnail

Evidence that local land use practices influence regional climate, vegetation, and stream flow patterns in adjacent natural areas

Global Change Biology

By:
, , , , and
DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2486.1998.00182.x

Links

Abstract

We present evidence that land use practices in the plains of Colorado influence regional climate and vegetation in adjacent natural areas in the Rocky Mountains in predictable ways. Mesoscale climate model simulations using the Colorado State University Regional Atmospheric Modelling System (RAMS) projected that modifications to natural vegetation in the plains, primarily due to agriculture and urbanization, could produce lower summer temperatures in the mountains. We corroborate the RAMS simulations with three independent sets of data: (i) climate records from 16 weather stations, which showed significant trends of decreasing July temperatures in recent decades; (ii) the distribution of seedlings of five dominant conifer species in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, which suggested that cooler, wetter conditions occurred over roughly the same time period; and (iii) increased stream flow, normalized for changes in precipitation, during the summer months in four river basins, which also indicates cooler summer temperatures and lower transpiration at landscape scales. Combined, the mesoscale atmospheric/land-surface model, short-term in regional temperatures, forest distribution changes, and hydrology data indicate that the effects of land use practices on regional climate may overshadow larger-scale temperature changes commonly associated with observed increases in CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Evidence that local land use practices influence regional climate, vegetation, and stream flow patterns in adjacent natural areas
Series title:
Global Change Biology
DOI:
10.1046/j.1365-2486.1998.00182.x
Volume
4
Issue:
5
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Global Change Biology
First page:
495
Last page:
504