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Numerical simulation of the impact of reforestation on winter meteorology and environment in a semi-arid urban valley, Northwestern China


Science of the Total Environment


Ye Yu,Jianjun He,Suping Zhao,Na Liua,Jinbei Chen,Hongjun Mao,Lin Wu








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Yu, Y

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Land use change; Air pollution; WRF; Mountain-valley circulation; Complex terrain; Lanzhou


Since 1999 Chinese government has made great effort to reforest the south and north mountains surrounding urban Lanzhou - a city located in a river valley, Northwestern China. Until 2009 obvious land use change occurred, with 69.2% of the reforested area been changed from grasslands, croplands, barren or sparsely vegetated land to closed shrublands and 20.6% from closed shrublands, grasslands, and croplands to forests. Reforestation changes land-surface properties, with possible impact on the evolution of atmospheric variables. To understand to what extent the local meteorology and environment could be affected by reforestation in winter, and through what processes, two sets of simulations were conducted using the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) and the FLEXible PARTicle (FLEXPART) dispersion model for a control case with high-resolution remotely sensed land cover data for 2009 and a scenario assuming no reforestation since 1999. Results suggested that the changes in albedo, surface exchange coefficient and surface soil heat conductivity related to reforestation led to the changes in surface net radiation and surface energy partitioning, which in turn affected the meteorological fields and enhanced the mountain-valleywind circulation. Replacement of shrublands and grassland with forest in the south mountain through reforestation play a dominant role in the enhancement of mountain-valley wind circulation. Reforestation increased the amount of air exchanged between the valley and the outside during the day, with the largest hourly increase of 10% on calm weather days and a monthly mean hourly increase of 2% for the study period (Dec. 2009). Reforestation affected the spatial distribution of pollutants and slightly improved the urban air quality, especially in the eastern valley. Results from this study provide useful information for future urban air quality management and reforestation plan, and some experience for cities with similar situations in the world.