The 19th-century agrarian landscape of New Jersey (NJ) and the surrounding region has been extensively transformed to the present-day land cover by urbanization, reforestation, and localized areas of deforestation. This study used a mesoscale atmospheric numerical model to investigate the sensitivity of the warm season climate of NJ to these land cover changes. Reconstructed 1880s-era and present-day land cover data sets were used as surface boundary conditions for a set of simulations performed with the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS). Three-member ensembles with historical and present-day land cover were compared to examine the sensitivity of surface air and dew point temperatures, rainfall, and the individual components of the surface energy budget to these land cover changes. Mean temperatures for the present-day landscape were 0.3-0.6??C warmer than for the historical landscape over a considerable portion of NJ and the surrounding region, with daily maximum temperatures at least 1.0??C warmer over some of the highly urbanized locations. Reforested regions, however, were slightly cooler. Dew point temperatures decreased by 0.3-0.6??C, suggesting drier, less humid near-surface air for the present-day landscape. Surface warming was generally associated with repartitioning of net radiation from latent to sensible heat flux, and conversely for cooling. While urbanization was accompanied by strong surface albedo decreases and increases in net shortwave radiation, reforestation and potential changes in forest composition have generally increased albedos and also enhanced landscape heterogeneity. The increased deciduousness of forests may have further reduced net downward longwave radiation. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.
Additional publication details
Evaluating the effects of historical land cover change on summertime weather and climate in New Jersey: Land cover and surface energy budget changes