Abstract/Details

Local and regional climate change in the Mojave Desert, USA


2007 2007

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Abstract (summary)

In this study, the role of urbanization and atmospheric circulation on the climate of the Mojave Desert was examined using a variety of methods and datasets to uncover patterns of change at the local to regional level over the last sixty years. The three basic research questions that informed the dissertation were; (1) what is the effect of urbanization on local to regional climate; (2) what are the regional trends in Mojave Desert climate; and, (3) can trends in local to regional climate be explained by changes in atmospheric circulation?

Urban effects were widespread with mean and minimum temperature trends 2 to 3 times greater than the regional average. In general, minimum temperatures increased by 2.5--5°C at urban stations, while rural areas warmed by less than 1.5°C, if at all. In the largest city, Las Vegas, a daytime urban cool island linked to increased air pollution and atmospheric moisture was observed. In the smaller Mojave cities, such as St. George, UT, daytime heat islands formed as maximum temperature increased by 1--3°C. Regional urban effects were observed in a day-of-week (DOW) cycle in precipitation downwind of Las Vegas that matched DOW air pollution (PM10) variability. Between 1994 and 2003, 32% more precipitation occurred during the Wednesday to Friday (weekday) period than the Saturday to Monday (weekend) period with average precipitation intensity 13% greater during the weekday period.

The Mojave Desert is experiencing summer-like conditions earlier in the year due to a 2--3°C increase in the average spring temperature, while temperatures are also increasing during the summer. Thus, a longer and hotter summer season is occurring throughout the Mojave.

The frequency of warm atmospheric circulation patterns increased at the expense of colder ones leading to temperature increases in the Mojave Desert. For example, 65% of the regional trend in winter minimum temperature is due to a change in circulation patterns alone. Overall, the data suggest that the combined effect of urbanization and atmospheric circulation changes have produced hotter conditions in the Mojave Desert. There is less evidence suggesting that an increase in global greenhouse gases has caused the regional trends.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Geography;
Geophysics;
Atmosphere
Classification
0368: Geography
0373: Geophysics
0725: Atmosphere
Identifier / keyword
Earth sciences; Arid; Climate change; Desert climate; Mojave Desert; Urban climatology
Title
Local and regional climate change in the Mojave Desert, USA
Author
Miller, James Aaron
Number of pages
240
Publication year
2007
Degree date
2007
School code
0010
Source
DAI-B 68/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
University/institution
Arizona State University
University location
United States -- Arizona
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3258132
ProQuest document ID
304894870
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304894870
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