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Title: Future Summer Drying in the U.S. Corn Belt and the Role of Midlatitude Storm Tracks
Abstract During the summer, the Midwest United States, which covers the main US corn belt, has a net loss of surface water as evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation. The net moisture gain into the atmosphere is transported out of the region to northern high latitudes through transient eddy moisture fluxes. How this process may change in the future is not entirely clear despite the fact that the corn belt region is responsible for a large portion of the global supply of corn and soybeans. We find that increased CO2 and the associated warming increases evapotranspiration. while precipitation reduces in the region leading to further reduction in precipitation minus evaporation (P-E) in the future. At the same time, the poleward transient moisture flux increases leading to enhanced atmospheric moistures export from the corn belt region. However, storm track intensity is generally weakened in the summer due to reduced north-south temperature gradient associated with amplified warming in the midlatitudes. The intensified transient eddy moisture transport as storm track weakens can be reconciled by the stronger mean moisture gradient in the future. This is found to be caused by the climatological low-level jet transporting more moisture into the Great Plains region due to the thermodynamic mechanism under warmer conditions. Our results, for the first time, show that in the future, the US Midwest corn belt will experience more hydrological stress due to intensified transient eddy moisture export leading to drier soils in the region.  more » « less
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Journal of Climate
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National Science Foundation
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