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Assessing the impact of Land-use and Land-cover changes on the climate over India using a Regional Climate Model (RegCM4)

Sridhara Nayak*, Manabottom Mandal, Suman Maity

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ABSTRACT: The changes in land use and land cover (LULC) in recent decades are among the responsible factors for the recent climate changes. In this study, the impact of LULC changes on the climate over India was assessed through multi-decade simulations (3 decades) by using the Regional Climate Modeling system (RegCM4) with fixed and changed LULC. Difference between the two simulations was considered as the impact of LULC changes on the regional climate. The main focus was given on the decadal climatology of temperature, precipitation and other several important climatic variables including specific humidity, moisture content, sensible heat, evapotranspiration over Indian regions and their response to the LULC change. The study found a decreasing trend in annual precipitation and increasing trend in annual temperature over India during 1981-2010. The LULC changes over northwest, south peninsular and west central regions of India contributed towards warming during 1991-2010, while that over central north and north eastern regions resulted cooling during this period. The LULC change also indicated wet effect over south peninsular and west central regions of India and dry effect over northwest India in 1991-2010. The analysis indicated that the LULC changes resulted a decrease of evapotranspiration, moisture content and specific humidity that led to decreased precipitation. On the other hand, the changes in LULC resulted significant increase of sensible heat flux and albedo which led to the temperature rise. Our overall modeling results has an implication towards understanding the processes associated with LULC change feedback to the climate over Indian regions.