An Assessment of Impacts of Land Use and Land Cover Change on Regional Climate in Pearl River Delta and South China

Principal Investigator: Prof. Lin Hui

Project Ref No: CUHK4642/05H
Start Date: 2006/01/01
End Date: 2007/12/31
Type of Grant: RGC Competitive Earmarked Research Grant 2005/2006

Land use and land cover (LULC) change is recognized as one of the largest and most convincing mechanisms of the global change and plats critical roles in a wide range of earth system processes. It has been hypothesized that LULC change could play equally important role in affecting global climate as does the increased CO2. At present, however, such impacts are poorly understood at regional to global scales, primarily because accurate and effective methods for large-area LULC change detection have yet to be developed.

We propose to conduct an integrated assessment of LULC change and its impacts on climate in the Greater Pearl River Delta (G-PRD) region of southern China. The overarching goals of the project are:

  1. to develop an innovative method suitable for detecting and validating large-area LULC change using remote sensing data and to quantify such changes taken place in the G-RPD from the early 1980s through year 2000
  2. to assess major impacts to LULC change on regional climate in three aspects of regional significance
    • Impact on regional weather and climate since 1980 (variations in temperature, precipitation, humidity, turbulent heat fluxes
    • Impact on surface runoff and water availability under extreme weather events
    • Impact on spatial and temporal characteristics of air pollution in urbanized areas within the study region.

This research not only possesses great scientific merits, but also provides vital information for formulating strategies for a sustainable development of the G-PRD region. Because this region is typical of many fast growing coastal areas, particularly in developing countries, implementation of this project can serve as a template for studies of other regions around the world.