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Simulated climate impacts of Mexico City's historical urban expansion

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Urbanization, a direct consequence of land use and land cover change, is responsible for significant modification of local to regional scale climates. It is projected that the greatest urban growth

Urbanization, a direct consequence of land use and land cover change, is responsible for significant modification of local to regional scale climates. It is projected that the greatest urban growth of this century will occur in urban areas in the developing world. In addition, there is a significant research gap in emerging nations concerning this topic. Thus, this research focuses on the assessment of climate impacts related to urbanization on the largest metropolitan area in Latin America: Mexico City.

Numerical simulations using a state-of-the-science regional climate model are utilized to address a trio of scientifically relevant questions with wide global applicability. The importance of an accurate representation of land use and land cover is first demonstrated through comparison of numerical simulations against observations. Second, the simulated effect of anthropogenic heating is quantified. Lastly, numerical simulations are performed using pre-historic scenarios of land use and land cover to examine and quantify the impact of Mexico City's urban expansion and changes in surface water features on its regional climate.

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  • 2015

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Developing Anthropogenic Heating Profiles for Urban Areas across the United States

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Urban areas produce an urban heat island (UHI), which is manifest as warmer temperatures compared to the surrounding and less developed areas. While it is understood that UHI's are warmer

Urban areas produce an urban heat island (UHI), which is manifest as warmer temperatures compared to the surrounding and less developed areas. While it is understood that UHI's are warmer than their surrounding areas, attributing the amount of heat added by the urban area is not easily determined. Current generation modeling systems require diurnal anthropogenic heating profiles. Development of diurnal cycle profiles of anthropogenic heating will help the modeling community as there is currently no database for anthropogenic heating profiles for cities across the United States. With more accurate anthropogenic heating profiles, climate models will be better able to show how humans directly impact the urban climate. This research attempts to create anthropogenic heating profiles for 61 cities in the United States. The method used climate, electricity, natural gas, and transportation data to develop anthropogenic heating profiles for each state. To develop anthropogenic heating profiles, profiles are developed for buildings, transportation, and human metabolism using the most recently available data. Since utilities are reluctant to release data, the building energy profile is developed using statewide electricity by creating a linear regression between the climate and electricity usage. A similar method is used to determine the contribution of natural gas consumption. These profiles are developed for each month of the year, so annual changes in anthropogenic heating can be seen. These profiles can then be put into climate models to enable more accurate urban climate modeling.

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  • 2014-05

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Patch to Landscape and Back Again: Three Case Studies of Land System Architecture Change and Environmental Consequences from the Local to Global Scale

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Humans have modified land systems for centuries in pursuit of a wide range of social and ecological benefits. Recent decades have seen an increase in the magnitude and scale of

Humans have modified land systems for centuries in pursuit of a wide range of social and ecological benefits. Recent decades have seen an increase in the magnitude and scale of land system modification (e.g., the Anthropocene) but also a growing recognition and interest in generating land systems that balance environmental and human well-being. This dissertation focused on three case studies operating at distinctive spatial scales in which broad socio-economic or political-institutional drivers affected land systems, with consequences for the environmental conditions of that system. Employing a land system architecture (LSA) framework and using landscape metrics to quantify landscape composition and configuration from satellite imagery, each case linked these drivers to changes in LSA and environmental outcomes.

The first paper of this dissertation found that divergent design intentions lead to unique trajectories for LSA, the urban heat island effect, and bird community at two urban riparian sites in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The second paper examined institutional shifts that occurred during Cuba’s “special period in time of peace” and found that the resulting land tenure changes both modified and maintained the LSA of the country, changing cropland but preserving forest land. The third paper found that globalized forces may be contributing to the homogenizing urban form of large, populous cities in China, India, and the United States—especially for the ten largest cities in each country—with implications for surface urban heat island intensity. Expanding knowledge on social drivers of land system and environmental change provides insights on designing landscapes that optimize for a range of social and ecological trade-offs.

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  • 2020