Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Assefa M. Melesse

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ping Zhu

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dean Whitman

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Georgio Tachiev

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Michael C. Sukop

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Land Use /Land Cover, UHI, Radiosonde, Landsat, Lifting Condensation Level, Energy Flux, Sensible Heat Flux, Latent Heat Flux, Ground Heat Flux, Bowen’s Ratio, Evapotranspiration, Apparent Thermal Inertia, Albedo, Radar Reflectivity, Convective Rainfall, South Florida

Date of Defense



Modification of land use/land cover in South Florida has posed a major challenge in the region’s eco-hydrology by shifting the surface-atmosphere water and energy balance. Although drainage and development in South Florida took place extensively between the mid- and late- 20th century, converting half of the original Everglades into agricultural and urban areas, urban expansion still accounts for a dominant mode of surface cover change in South Florida. Changes in surface cover directly affect the radiative, thermophysical and aerodynamic parameters which determine the absorption and partitioning of radiation into different components at the Earth surface. The alteration is responsible for changing the thermal structure of the surface and surface layer atmosphere, eventually modifying surface-induced convection.

This dissertation is aimed at analyzing the extent and pattern of land cover change in South Florida and delineating the associated development of urban heat island (UHI), energy flux alteration, and convective rainfall modification using observed data, remotely sensed estimates, and modeled results.

Urban land covers in South Florida are found to have increased by 10% from 1974 to 2011. Higher Landsat-derived land surface temperatures (LST) are observed in urban areas (LSTu-r =2.8°C) with satisfactory validation statistics for eastern stations (Nash-Sutcliffe coefficient =0.70 and R2 =0.79). Time series trends, significantly negative for diurnal temperature range (DTR= -1°C, p=0.005) and positive for lifting condensation level (LCL > 20m) reveal temporal and conspicuous urban-rural differences in nocturnal temperature (ΔTu-r = 4°C) shows spatial signatures of UHI. Spatially higher (urban: 3, forest: 0.14) and temporally increasing (urban: 1.67 to 3) Bowen’s ratios, and sensible heat fluxes exceeding net radiation in medium and high-intensity developed areas in 2010 reflect the effect of urbanization on surface energy balance. Radar reflectivity-derived surface-induced convective rainfall reveals significantly positive mean differences (thunderstorm cell density: 6/1000 km2and rain rate: 0.24 mm/hr/summer, p < 0.005) between urban and entire South Florida indicating convective enhancement by urban covers.

The research fulfils its two-fold purposes: advancing the understanding of post-development hydrometeorology in South Florida and investigating the spatial and temporal impacts of land cover change on the microclimate of a subtropical city.





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