A comparative analysis of warm season precipitation distribution and land cover in the greater Tuscaloosa area

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University of Alabama Libraries

On an annual basis Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas are exposed to a variety of weather hazards associated with thunderstorms. The synoptically benign conditions during the warm season over this region create a more favorable environment for the development of air mass type thunderstorms. These storms are often chaotic in nature developing in random locations. This study attempts to find patterns in this development by comparing warm season precipitation data with types of land cover. Correlations between land cover and precipitation totals were investigated by using 24-hour estimated precipitation totals provided by the National Weather Service River Forecast Centers and comparing these data with a land use/land cover classification dataset. Non-parametric statistical analysis was then used to determine if positive correlations exist. Spatial Synoptic Classification was also used to isolate days more conducive to thunderstorm formation based on air mass type. Results indicate that over a five year study period, more daily precipitation accumulated in the eastern portions of Tuscaloosa County. On days more conducive to convective precipitation development, heavier precipitation occurred in the area with the greatest urban land cover concentration and areas directly east and northeast of the urban center. Further research is needed to validate these findings, mainly because of a positively skewed precipitation dataset obtained over the five year study period.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Geography, Meteorology, Geographic Information Sciences