Land Surface Heterogeneity Signature in Tornado Climatology? An Illustrative Analysis over Indiana, 1950–2012*
Land surface heterogeneity affects mesoscale interactions, including the evolution of severe convection. However, its contribution to tornadogenesis is not well known. Indiana is selected as an example to present an assessment of documented tornadoes and land surface heterogeneity to better understand the spatial distribution of tornadoes. This assessment is developed using a GIS framework taking data from 1950 to 2012 and investigates the following topics: temporal analysis, effect of ENSO,
... effect of ENSO, antecedent rainfall linkages, population density, land use/ land cover, and topography, placing them in the context of land surface heterogeneity. Spatial analysis of tornado touchdown locations reveals several spatial relationships with regard to cities, population density, land-use classification, and topography. A total of 61% of F0-F5 tornadoes and 43% of F0-F5 tornadoes in Indiana have touched down within 1 km of urban land use and land area classified as forest, respectively, suggesting the possible role of land-use surface roughness on tornado occurrences. The correlation of tornado touchdown points to population density suggests a moderate to strong relationship. A temporal analysis of tornado days shows favored time of day, months, seasons, and active tornado years. Tornado days for 1950-2012 are compared to antecedent rainfall and ENSO phases, which both show no discernible relationship with the average number of annual tornado days. Analysis of tornado touchdowns and topography does not indicate any strong relationship between tornado touchdowns and elevation. Results suggest a possible signature of land surface heterogeneity-particularly that around urban and forested land cover-in tornado climatology.