Diurnal Temperature Range Variability due to Land Cover and Airmass Types in the Southeast

Kelsey N. Scheitlin Department of Geography, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

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P. Grady Dixon Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi

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Abstract

This study examines the relationship between diurnal temperature range (DTR) and land use/land cover (LULC) in a portion of the Southeast. Temperature data for all synoptically weak days within a 10-yr period are gathered from the National Climatic Data Center for 144 weather stations. Each station is classified as one of the following LULC types: urban, agriculture, evergreen forest, deciduous forest, or mixed forest. A three-way analysis of variance and paired-sample t tests are used to test for significant DTR differences due to LULC, month, and airmass type. The LULC types display two clear groups according to their DTR, with agricultural and urban areas consistently experiencing the smallest DTRs, and the forest types experiencing greater DTRs. The dry air masses seem to enhance the DTR differences between vegetated LULC types by emphasizing the differences in evapotranspiration. Meanwhile, the high moisture content of moist air masses prohibits extensive evapotranspirational cooling in the vegetated areas. This lessens the DTR differences between vegetated LULC types, while enhancing the differences between vegetated land and urban areas. All of the LULC types exhibit an annual bimodal DTR pattern with peaks in April and October. Since both vegetated and nonvegetated areas experience the bimodal pattern, this may conflict with previous research that names seasonal changes in evapotranspiration as the most probable cause for the annual trend. These findings suggest that airmass type has a larger and more consistent influence on the DTR of an area than LULC type and therefore may play a role in causing the bimodal DTR pattern, altering DTR with the seasonal distribution of airmass occurrence.

Corresponding author address: Kelsey N. Scheitlin, Dept. of Geography, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306. Email: kns07g@fsu.edu

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between diurnal temperature range (DTR) and land use/land cover (LULC) in a portion of the Southeast. Temperature data for all synoptically weak days within a 10-yr period are gathered from the National Climatic Data Center for 144 weather stations. Each station is classified as one of the following LULC types: urban, agriculture, evergreen forest, deciduous forest, or mixed forest. A three-way analysis of variance and paired-sample t tests are used to test for significant DTR differences due to LULC, month, and airmass type. The LULC types display two clear groups according to their DTR, with agricultural and urban areas consistently experiencing the smallest DTRs, and the forest types experiencing greater DTRs. The dry air masses seem to enhance the DTR differences between vegetated LULC types by emphasizing the differences in evapotranspiration. Meanwhile, the high moisture content of moist air masses prohibits extensive evapotranspirational cooling in the vegetated areas. This lessens the DTR differences between vegetated LULC types, while enhancing the differences between vegetated land and urban areas. All of the LULC types exhibit an annual bimodal DTR pattern with peaks in April and October. Since both vegetated and nonvegetated areas experience the bimodal pattern, this may conflict with previous research that names seasonal changes in evapotranspiration as the most probable cause for the annual trend. These findings suggest that airmass type has a larger and more consistent influence on the DTR of an area than LULC type and therefore may play a role in causing the bimodal DTR pattern, altering DTR with the seasonal distribution of airmass occurrence.

Corresponding author address: Kelsey N. Scheitlin, Dept. of Geography, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306. Email: kns07g@fsu.edu

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