The impact of future land use and land cover changes (LULCC) on regional and global climate is one of the most challenging aspects of understanding anthropogenic climate change. We study the impacts of LULCC on regional climate in the southeastern U.S. by downscaling the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies global climate model E to the regional scale using a spectral nudging technique with the Weather Research and Forecasting Model. Climate-relevant meteorological fields are compared for two southeastern U.S. LULCC scenarios to the current land use/cover for four seasons of the year 2050. In this work it is shown that reforestation of cropland in the southeastern U.S. tends to warm surface air by up to 0.5 K, while replacing forested land with cropland tends to cool the surface air by 0.5 K. Processes leading to this response are investigated and sensitivity analyses conducted. The sensitivity analysis shows that results are most sensitive to changes in albedo and the stomatal resistance. Evaporative cooling of croplands also plays an important role in regional climate. Implications of LULCC on air quality are discussed. Summertime warming associated with reforestation of croplands could increase the production of some secondary pollutants, while a higher boundary layer will decrease pollutant concentrations; wintertime warming may decrease emissions from biomass burning from wood stoves. Key Points Land use impacts on regional climate are sensitive to stomatal resistance Reforestation of crop regions in the Southeast lead to warming Cooling tends to occur when forest is replaced with crop in the Southeast ©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.