skip to main content

Title: Modeled Response of South American Climate to Three Decades of Deforestation
Abstract This study investigates the potential effects of historical deforestation in South America using a regional climate model driven with reanalysis data. Two different sources of data were used to quantify deforestation during the 1980s to 2010s, leading to two scenarios of forest loss: smaller but spatially continuous in scenario 1 and larger but spatially scattered in scenario 2. The model simulates a generally warmer and drier local climate following deforestation. Vegetation canopy becomes warmer due to reduced canopy evapotranspiration, and ground becomes warmer due to more radiation reaching the ground. The warming signal for surface air is weaker than for ground and vegetation, likely due to reduced surface roughness suppressing the sensible heat flux. For surface air over deforested areas, the warming signal is stronger for the nighttime minimum temperature and weaker or even becomes a cooling signal for the daytime maximum temperature, due to the strong radiative effects of albedo at midday, which reduces the diurnal amplitude of temperature. The drying signals over deforested areas include lower atmospheric humidity, less precipitation, and drier soil. The model identifies the La Plata basin as a region remotely influenced by deforestation, where a simulated increase of precipitation leads to wetter soil, more » higher ET, and a strong surface cooling. Over both deforested and remote areas, the deforestation-induced surface climate changes are much stronger in scenario 2 than scenario 1; coarse-resolution data and models (such as in scenario 1) cannot represent the detailed spatial structure of deforestation and underestimate its impact on local and regional climates. « less
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Climate
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
2189 to 2203
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Environmental temperature is a widely used variable to describe weather and climate conditions. The use of temperature anomalies to identify variations in climate and weather systems makes temperature a key variable to evaluate not only climate variability but also shifts in ecosystem structural and functional properties. In contrast to terrestrial ecosystems, the assessment of regional temperature anomalies in coastal wetlands is more complex since the local temperature is modulated by hydrology and weather. Thus, it is unknown how the regional free-air temperature (T Free ) is coupled to local temperature anomalies, which can vary across interfaces among vegetation canopy, water, and soil that modify the wetland microclimate regime. Here, we investigated the temperature differences (offsets) at those three interfaces in mangrove-saltmarsh ecotones in coastal Louisiana and South Florida in the northern Gulf of Mexico (2017–2019). We found that the canopy offset (range: 0.2–1.6°C) between T Free and below-canopy temperature (T Canopy ) was caused by the canopy buffering effect. The similar offset values in both Louisiana and Florida underscore the role of vegetation in regulating near-ground energy fluxes. Overall, the inundation depth did not influence soil temperature (T Soil ). The interaction between frequency and duration of inundation, however, significantlymore »modulated T Soil given the presence of water on the wetland soil surface, thus attenuating any short- or long-term changes in the T Canopy and T Free . Extreme weather events—including cold fronts and tropical cyclones—induced high defoliation and weakened canopy buffering, resulting in long-term changes in canopy or soil offsets. These results highlight the need to measure simultaneously the interaction between ecological and climatic processes to reduce uncertainty when modeling macro- and microclimate in coastal areas under a changing climate, especially given the current local temperature anomalies data scarcity. This work advances the coupling of Earth system models to climate models to forecast regional and global climate change and variability along coastal areas.« less
  2. Abstract Observations show increases in river discharge to the Arctic Ocean especially in winter over the last decades but the physical mechanisms driving these changes are not yet fully understood. We hypothesize that even in the absence of a precipitation increase, permafrost degradation alone can lead to increased annual river runoff. To test this hypothesis we perform 12 millennium-long simulations over an idealized hypothetical watershed (1 km 2 ) using a distributed, physically based water balance model (Water flow and Balance Simulation Model, WaSiM). The model is forced by both a hypothetical warming defined by an air temperature increase of 7.5 ∘ C over 100 years, and a corresponding cooling scenario. To assess model sensitivity we vary soil saturated hydraulic conductivity and lateral subsurface flow configuration. Under the warming scenario, changes in subsurface water transport due to ground temperature changes result in a 7%–14% increase in annual runoff accompanied by a 6%–20% decrease in evapotranspiration. The increase in runoff is most pronounced in winter. Hence, the simulations demonstrate that changes in permafrost characteristics due to climate warming and associated changes in evapotranspiration provide a plausible mechanism for the observed runoff increases in Arctic watersheds. In addition, our experiments show thatmore »when lateral subsurface moisture transport is not included, as commonly done in global-scale Earth System Models, the equilibrium water balance in response to the warming or cooling is similar to the water balance in simulations where lateral subsurface transport is included. However, the transient changes in water balance components prior to reaching equilibrium differ greatly between the two. For example, for high saturated hydraulic conductivity only when lateral subsurface transport is considered, a period of decreased runoff occurs immediately after the warming. This period is characterized by a positive change in soil moisture storage caused by the soil moisture deficit developed during prior cooling.« less
  3. Abstract

    Mangroves cover less than 0.1% of Earth’s surface, store large amounts of carbon per unit area, but are threatened by global environmental change. The capacity of mangroves productivity could be characterized by their canopy greenness, but this property has not been systematically tested across gradients of mangrove forests and national scales. Here, we analyzed time series of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), mean air temperature and total precipitation between 2001 and 2015 (14 years) to quantify greenness and climate variability trends for mangroves not directly influenced by land use/land cover change across Mexico. Between 2001 and 2015 persistent mangrove forests covered 432 800 ha, representing 57% of the total current mangrove area for Mexico. We found a temporal greenness increase between 0.003[0.001–0.004]and 0.004[0.002–0.005]yr−1(NDVI values ± 95%CI) for mangroves located over the Gulf of California and the Pacific Coast, with many mangrove areas dominated byAvicennia germinans.Mangroves developed along the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea did not show significant greenness trends, but site-specific areas showed significant negative greenness trends. Mangroves with surface water input have above ground carbon stocks (AGC) between 37.7 and 221.9 Mg C ha−1and soil organic carbon density at 30 cm depth (SOCD) between 92.4 and 127.3 Mg Cmore »ha−1. Mangroves with groundwater water input have AGC of 12.7 Mg C ha−1and SOCD of 219 Mg C ha−1. Greenness and climate variability trends could not explain the spatial variability in carbon stocks for most mangrove forests across Mexico. Site-specific characteristics, including mangrove species dominance could have a major influence on greenness trends. Our findings provide a baseline for national-level monitoring programs, carbon accounting models, and insights for greenness trends that could be tested around the world.

    « less

    Recent studies have shown the impacts of historical land-use land-cover changes (i.e., deforestation) on hot temperature extremes; contradictory temperature responses have been found between studies using observations and climate models. However, different characterizations of surface temperature are sometimes used in the assessments: land surface skin temperature Ts is more commonly used in observation-based studies while near-surface air temperature T2m is more often used in model-based studies. The inconsistent use of temperature variables is not inconsequential, and the relationship between deforestation and various temperature changes can be entangled, which complicates comparisons between observations and model simulations. In this study, the responses in the diurnal cycle of summertime Ts and T2m to deforestation are investigated using the Community Earth System Model. For the daily maximum, opposite responses are found in Ts and T2m. Due to decreased surface roughness after deforestation, the heat at the land surface cannot be efficiently dissipated into the air, leading to a warmer surface but cooler air. For the daily minimum, strong warming is found in T2m, which exceeds daytime cooling and leads to overall warming in daily mean temperatures. After comparing several climate models, we find that the models agree in daytime land surface (Ts) warming,more »but different turbulent transfer characteristics produce discrepancies in T2m. Our work highlights the need to investigate the diurnal cycles of temperature responses carefully in land-cover change studies. Furthermore, consistent consideration of temperature variables should be applied in future comparisons involving observations and climate models.

    « less
  5. Abstract Land-use and land-cover change (LULCC) is one of the most important forcings affecting climate in the past century. This study evaluates the global and regional LULCC impacts in 1950–2015 by employing an annually updated LULCC map in a coupled land–atmosphere–ocean model. The difference between LULCC and control experiments shows an overall land surface temperature (LST) increase by 0.48 K in the LULCC regions and a widespread LST decrease by 0.18 K outside the LULCC regions. A decomposed temperature metric (DTM) is applied to quantify the relative contribution of surface processes to temperature changes. Furthermore, while precipitation in the LULCC areas is reduced in agreement with declined evaporation, LULCC causes a southward displacement of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) with a narrowing by 0.5°, leading to a tripole anomalous precipitation pattern over the warm pool. The DTM shows that the temperature response in LULCC regions results from the competing effect between increased albedo (cooling) and reduced evaporation (warming). The reduced evaporation indicates less atmospheric latent heat release in convective processes and thus a drier and cooler troposphere, resulting in a reduction in surface cooling outside the LULCC regions. The southward shift of the ITCZ implies a northward cross-equatorial energy transportmore »anomaly in response to reduced latent/sensible heat of the atmosphere in the Northern Hemisphere, where LULCC is more intensive. Tropospheric cooling results in the equatorward shift of the upper-tropospheric westerly jet in both hemispheres, which, in turn, leads to an equatorward narrowing of the Hadley circulation and ITCZ.« less