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Title: Irrigated Agriculture Significantly Modifies Seasonal Boundary Layer Atmosphere and Lower-Tropospheric Convective Environment
Abstract

Modification of grasslands into irrigated and nonirrigated agriculture in the Great Plains resulted in significant impacts on weather and climate. However, there has been lack of observational data–based studies solely focused on impacts of irrigation on the PBL and convective conditions. The Great Plains Irrigation Experiment (GRAINEX), conducted during the 2018 growing season, collected data over irrigated and nonirrigated land uses over Nebraska to understand these impacts. Specifically, the objective was to determine whether the impacts of irrigation are sustained throughout the growing season. The data analyzed include latent and sensible heat flux, air temperature, dewpoint temperature, equivalent temperature (moist enthalpy), PBL height, lifting condensation level (LCL), level of free convection (LFC), and PBL mixing ratio. Results show increased partitioning of energy into latent heat relative to sensible heat over irrigated areas while average maximum air temperature was decreased and dewpoint temperature was increased from the early to peak growing season. Radiosonde data suggest reduced planetary boundary layer (PBL) heights at all launch sites from the early to peak growing season. However, reduction of PBL height was much greater over irrigated areas than over nonirrigated croplands. Relative to the early growing period, LCL and LFC heights were also lower during the peak growing period over irrigated areas. Results note, for the first time, that the impacts of irrigation on PBL evolution and convective environment can be sustained throughout the growing season and regardless of background atmospheric conditions. These are important findings and applicable to other irrigated areas in the world.

Significance Statement

To meet the ever-increasing demand for food, many regions of the world have adopted widespread irrigation. The High Plains Aquifer (HPA) region, located within the Great Plains of the United States, is one of the most extensively irrigated regions. In this study, for the first time, we have conducted a detailed irrigation-focused land surface and atmospheric data collection campaign to determine irrigation impacts on the atmosphere. This research demonstrates that irrigation significantly alters lower atmospheric characteristics and creates favorable cloud and convection development conditions during the growing season. The results clearly show first-order impacts of irrigation on regional weather and climate and hence warrant further attention so that we can minimize negative impacts and achieve sustainable irrigation.

 
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Award ID(s):
1720477
NSF-PAR ID:
10489684
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Volume:
63
Issue:
2
ISSN:
1558-8424
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: p. 245-262
Size(s):
["p. 245-262"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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