The impact of land cover change on storms in the Sydney Basin, Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Global and Planetary Change, 2006, 54 (1-2), pp. 57 - 78
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This study has used a numerical model (RAMS) at 1 km horizontal grid intervals over the Sydney Basin to assess the impact of land cover change on storms. Multiple storms using the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis data were simulated with pre-European settlement land cover then re-simulated with land cover representing Sydney's current land use pattern. While all simulated storms did not respond to the change in land cover consistently, storms of similar types responded in comparable ways. All simulated synoptically forced storms (e.g. those triggered by cold fronts) were unresponsive to a changed land surface, while local convective storms were highly sensitive to the triggering mechanism associated with land surface influences. Storms travelling over the smoother agricultural land in the south-west of the Sydney Basin experienced an increase in velocity, and in a special case, the dense urban surface of Sydney's city core appears to trigger an intense convective storm. It is shown that the dynamical setting predominantly triggers storm outbreaks. This is seen most clearly in the isolated convective storm category where the sea breeze front often dictates the location of storm cell initiation. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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