Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



T. Zhang, et al. Weather and Climate Extremes 23 (2019) 100197


2019 Published by Elsevier B.V.


Agricultural activities notably alter weather and climate including near-surface heat content. However, past research primarily focused on dry bulb temperature without considering the role of water vapor (dew point temperature) on surface air heat content. When using dry bulb temperature trends to assess these changes, for example, not including concurrent trends in absolute humidity can lead to errors in the actual rate of warming or cooling. Here we examined minimum and maximum surface moist enthalpy, which can be expressed as “equivalent temperature.” Using hourly climate data in the Central Great Plains (Nebraska and Kansas) from 1990 to 2014, the averages and trends of minimum and maximum equivalent temperature (TE_min; TE_max) were analyzed to investigate the potential impacts of irrigation. During the growing season, TE_max averages were significantly higher in irrigated cropland sites compared to grassland sites. This can be explained by increased transpiration linked to irrigation. In addition, TE_max exhibits a decreasing trend in most sites over the growing season. However, the difference of the trends under irrigated croplands and grasslands is not statistically significant. A longer time series and additional surface energy flux experiments are still needed to better understand the relationships among temperature, energy, and land cover.