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Could crop albedo modification reduce regional warming over Australia?

Kala, J.ORCID: 0000-0001-9338-2965 and Hirsch, A.L. (2020) Could crop albedo modification reduce regional warming over Australia? Weather and Climate Extremes, 30 . Article 100282.

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Climate observations and projections for Australia show an increase in warm temperature extremes, including the frequency, duration and intensity of heatwaves. Recent global scale studies have suggested that agricultural land-use management options, such as increasing crop albedo, could reducing local warming. Australia has approximately 3,727,210 km2 of cropland agricultural land-use, the majority of which is in southwest Western Australia and southeast Australia. This presents a potential opportunity to reduce regional warming via crop albedo enhancement. We use a regional climate model at 10 km resolution, to show that crop albedo enhancement of up to 0.1 could reduce monthly mean daily maximum temperatures by −1.0 °C to −1.2 °C, and monthly highest maximum temperatures by up to −1.4 °C to −1.6 °C during the cropping season. This cooling is approximately 3 times higher over Australia than global climate models predict. We highlight stronger cooling over southwest Western Australia as compared to southeast Australia, the opposite to global model studies which poorly resolve southwestern agricultural regions. The regional cooling was driven by a reduction in surface net shortwave radiation leading to a decrease in both sensible and latent heat flux of up to 50 W m−2 and 20 W m−2 respectively, when albedo is increased by up to 0.1. There were no cloud feedbacks or effects on precipitation. Our results highlight the importance of using regional climate models at a sufficiently high spatial resolution when investigating agricultural land-use management to reduce regional warming.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Harry Butler Institute
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2020 The Authors
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