, Volume 118, Issue 3-4, pp 129-142
Date: 12 Oct 2012

Links between observed micro-meteorological variability and land-use patterns in the highveld priority area of South Africa

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Links between spatial and temporal variability of Planetary Boundary Layer meteorological quantities and existing land-use patterns are still poorly understood due to the non-linearity of air–land interaction processes. This study describes the results of a statistical analysis of meteorological observations collected by a network of ten Automatic Weather Stations. The stations were in operation in the highveld priority area of the Republic of South Africa during 2008–2010. The analysis revealed localization, enhancement and homogenization in the inter-station variability of observed meteorological quantities (temperature, relative humidity and wind speed) over diurnal and seasonal cycles. Enhancement of the meteorological spatial variability was found on a broad range of scales from 20 to 50 km during morning hours and in the dry winter season. These spatial scales are comparable to scales of observed land-use heterogeneity, which suggests links between atmospheric variability and land-use patterns through excitation of horizontal meso-scale circulations. Convective motions homogenized and synchronized meteorological variability during afternoon hours in the winter seasons, and during large parts of the day during the moist summer season. The analysis also revealed that turbulent convection overwhelms horizontal meso-scale circulations in the study area during extensive parts of the annual cycle.