The impact of land cover change on a simulated storm event in the Sydney Basin

A. F. Gero, A. J. Pitman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) was run at a 1-km grid spacing over the Sydney basin in Australia to assess the impact of land cover change on a simulated storm event. The simulated storm used NCEP-NCAR reanalysis data, first with natural (i.e., pre-European settlement in 1788) land cover and then with satellite-derived land cover representing Sydney's current land use pattern. An intense convective storm develops in the model in close proximity to Sydney's dense urban central business district under current land cover. The storm is absent under natural land cover conditions. A detailed investigation of why the change in land cover generates a storm was performed using factorial analysis, which revealed the storm to be sensitive to the presence of agricultural land in the southwest of the domain. This area interacts with the sea breeze and affects the horizontal divergence and moisture convergence - the triggering mechanisms of the storm. The existence of the storm over the dense urban area of Sydney is therefore coincidental. The results herein support efforts to develop parameterization of urban surfaces in high-resolution simulations of Sydney's meteorological environment but also highlight the need to improve the parameterization of other types of land cover change at the periphery of the urban area, given that these types dominate the explanation of the results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-300
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


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