A database for the monitoring of thermal anomalies over the Amazon forest and adjacent intertropical oceans.
ABSTRACT: Advances in information technologies and accessibility to climate and satellite data in recent years have favored the development of web-based tools with user-friendly interfaces in order to facilitate the dissemination of geo/biophysical products. These products are useful for the analysis of the impact of global warming over different biomes. In particular, the study of the Amazon forest responses to drought have recently received attention by the scientific community due to the occurrence of two extreme droughts and sustained warming over the last decade. Thermal Amazoni@ is a web-based platform for the visualization and download of surface thermal anomalies products over the Amazon forest and adjacent intertropical oceans using Google Earth as a baseline graphical interface (http://ipl.uv.es/thamazon/web). This platform is currently operational at the servers of the University of Valencia (Spain), and it includes both satellite (MODIS) and climatic (ERA-Interim) datasets. Thermal Amazoni@ is composed of the viewer system and the web and ftp sites with ancillary information and access to product download.
Project description:We show that the vegetation canopy of the Amazon rainforest is highly sensitive to changes in precipitation patterns and that reduction in rainfall since 2000 has diminished vegetation greenness across large parts of Amazonia. Large-scale directional declines in vegetation greenness may indicate decreases in carbon uptake and substantial changes in the energy balance of the Amazon. We use improved estimates of surface reflectance from satellite data to show a close link between reductions in annual precipitation, El Niño southern oscillation events, and photosynthetic activity across tropical and subtropical Amazonia. We report that, since the year 2000, precipitation has declined across 69% of the tropical evergreen forest (5.4 million km(2)) and across 80% of the subtropical grasslands (3.3 million km(2)). These reductions, which coincided with a decline in terrestrial water storage, account for about 55% of a satellite-observed widespread decline in the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). During El Niño events, NDVI was reduced about 16.6% across an area of up to 1.6 million km(2) compared with average conditions. Several global circulation models suggest that a rise in equatorial sea surface temperature and related displacement of the intertropical convergence zone could lead to considerable drying of tropical forests in the 21st century. Our results provide evidence that persistent drying could degrade Amazonian forest canopies, which would have cascading effects on global carbon and climate dynamics.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Brazilian Amazon forests contain a large stock of carbon that could be released into the atmosphere as a result of land use and cover change. To quantify the carbon stocks, Brazil has forest inventory plots from different sources, but they are unstandardized and not always available to the scientific community. Considering the Brazilian Amazon extension, the use of remote sensing, combined with forest inventory plots, is one of the best options to estimate forest aboveground biomass (AGB). Nevertheless, the combination of limited forest inventory data and different remote sensing products has resulted in significant differences in the spatial distribution of AGB estimates. This study evaluates the spatial coverage of AGB data (forest inventory plots, AGB maps and remote sensing products) in undisturbed forests in the Brazilian Amazon. Additionally, we analyze the interconnection between these data and AGB stakeholders producing the information. Specifically, we provide the first benchmark of the existing field plots in terms of their size, frequency, and spatial distribution. RESULTS:We synthesized the coverage of forest inventory plots, AGB maps and airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) transects of the Brazilian Amazon. Although several extensive forest inventories have been implemented, these AGB data cover a small fraction of this region (e.g., central Amazon remains largely uncovered). Although the use of new technology such as airborne LiDAR cover a significant extension of AGB surveys, these data and forest plots represent only 1% of the entire forest area of the Brazilian Amazon. CONCLUSIONS:Considering that several institutions involved in forest inventories of the Brazilian Amazon have different goals, protocols, and time frames for forest surveys, forest inventory data of the Brazilian Amazon remain unstandardized. Research funding agencies have a very important role in establishing a clear sharing policy to make data free and open as well as in harmonizing the collection procedure. Nevertheless, the use of old and new forest inventory plots combined with airborne LiDAR data and satellite images will likely reduce the uncertainty of the AGB distribution of the Brazilian Amazon.
Project description:The double-Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) problem, in which excessive precipitation is produced in the Southern Hemisphere tropics, which resembles a Southern Hemisphere counterpart to the strong Northern Hemisphere ITCZ, is perhaps the most significant and most persistent bias of global climate models. In this study, we look to the extratropics for possible causes of the double-ITCZ problem by performing a global energetic analysis with historical simulations from a suite of global climate models and comparing with satellite observations of the Earth's energy budget. Our results show that models with more energy flux into the Southern Hemisphere atmosphere (at the top of the atmosphere and at the surface) tend to have a stronger double-ITCZ bias, consistent with recent theoretical studies that suggest that the ITCZ is drawn toward heating even outside the tropics. In particular, we find that cloud biases over the Southern Ocean explain most of the model-to-model differences in the amount of excessive precipitation in Southern Hemisphere tropics, and are suggested to be responsible for this aspect of the double-ITCZ problem in most global climate models.
Project description:Most Atlantic hurricanes form in the Main Development Region between 9°N to 20°N along the northern edge of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Previous research has suggested that meridional shifts in the ITCZ position on geologic timescales can modulate hurricane activity, but continuous and long-term storm records are needed from multiple sites to assess this hypothesis. Here we present a 3000 year record of intense hurricane strikes in the northern Bahamas (Abaco Island) based on overwash deposits in a coastal sinkhole, which indicates that the ITCZ has likely helped modulate intense hurricane strikes on the western North Atlantic margin on millennial to centennial-scales. The new reconstruction closely matches a previous reconstruction from Puerto Rico, and documents a period of elevated intense hurricane activity on the western North Atlantic margin from 2500 to 1000 years ago when paleo precipitation proxies suggest that the ITCZ occupied a more northern position. Considering that anthropogenic warming is predicted to be focused in the northern hemisphere in the coming century, these results provide a prehistoric analog that an attendant northern ITCZ shift in the future may again return the western North Atlantic margin to an active hurricane interval.
Project description:The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) encompasses the heaviest rain belt on the Earth. Few direct long-term records, especially in the Pacific, limit our understanding of long-term natural variability for predicting future ITCZ migration. Here we present a tropical precipitation record from the Southern Hemisphere covering the past 282,000 years, inferred from a marine sedimentary sequence collected off the eastern coast of Papua New Guinea. Unlike the precession paradigm expressed in its East Asian counterpart, our record shows that the western Pacific ITCZ migration was influenced by combined precession and obliquity changes. The obliquity forcing could be primarily delivered by a cross-hemispherical thermal/pressure contrast, resulting from the asymmetric continental configuration between Asia and Australia in a coupled East Asian-Australian circulation system. Our finding suggests that the obliquity forcing may play a more important role in global hydroclimate cycles than previously thought.
Project description:Empirical orthogonal functions (EOF) and composites analysis were employed on pentad data in order to investigate the tropical atmospheric-ocean patterns over the Atlantic Ocean and the spatial-temporal characteristics of the rainfall in eastern Amazon during the peak of the rainy season (February to April). The EOF results evidenced that the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is the main rainfall-producing system in eastern Amazon during the rainy season. Conditions associated with the southward SST gradient in the intertropical Atlantic formed the dynamic patterns that favored the position of the ITCZ to south of the equator, thus explaining the predominance of positive precipitation anomalies in eastern Amazon, especially in the state of Maranhão and northeastern Pará during the February and April months.
Project description:Purpose of Review:The intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) is a planetary-scale band of heavy precipitation close to the equator. Here, we consider the response of the ITCZ structure to climate change using observations, simulations, and theory. We focus on the substantial yet underappreciated projected changes in ITCZ width and strength, and highlight an emerging conceptual framework for understanding these changes. Recent Findings:Satellite observations and reanalysis data show a narrowing and strengthening of precipitation in the ITCZ over recent decades in both the Atlantic and Pacific basins, but little change in ITCZ location. Consistent with observations, coupled climate models predict no robust change in the zonal-mean ITCZ location over the twenty-first century. However, the majority of models project a narrowing of the ITCZ and weakening mean ascent. Interestingly, changes in ITCZ width and strength are strongly anti-correlated across models. Summary:The ITCZ has narrowed over recent decades yet its location has remained approximately constant. Climate models project further narrowing and a weakening of the average ascent within the ITCZ as the climate continues to warm. Following intense work over the last ten years, the physical mechanisms controlling the ITCZ location are now well understood. The development of complementary theories for ITCZ width and strength is a current research priority. Outstanding challenges include understanding the ITCZ response to past climate changes and over land versus ocean regions, and better constraining all aspects of the ITCZ structure in model projections. Electronic Supplementary Material:The online version of this article (10.1007/s40641-018-0110-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Project description:There is growing evidence that modification of tropical forests to pasture or other anthropic uses (anthropization) leads to land surface warming at local and regional scales; however, the degree of this effect is unknown given the dependence on physiographic and atmospheric conditions. We investigated the dependence of satellite land surface temperature (LST) on the fraction of anthropized area index, defined as the fraction of non-forested percentual area within 120m square boxes, sampled over a large tropical forest dominated ecosystem spatial domain in the Atlantic Forest biome, southeastern Brazil. The LST estimated at a 30 m resolution, showed a significant dependence on elevation and topographic aspect, which controlled the average thermal regime by 2~4°C and 1~2°C, respectively. The correction of LST by these topographic factors allowed to detect a dependence of LST on the fraction of non-forested area. Accordingly, the relationship between LST and the fraction of non-forested area showed a positive linear relationship (R2 = 0.63), whereby each 25% increase of non-forest area resulted in increased 1°C. As such, increase of the maximum temperature (~4°C) would occur in the case of 100% increase of non-forested area. We conclude that our study area, composed to Atlantic forest, appears to show regulatory characteristics of temperature attenuation as a local climatic ecosystem service, which may have mitigation effects on the accelerated global warming.
Project description:Coral reefs across the world's oceans are in the midst of the longest bleaching event on record (from 2014 to at least 2016). As many of the world's reefs are remote, there is limited information on how past thermal conditions have influenced reef composition and current stress responses. Using satellite temperature data for 1985-2012, the analysis we present is the first to quantify, for global reef locations, spatial variations in warming trends, thermal stress events and temperature variability at reef-scale (~4?km). Among over 60,000 reef pixels globally, 97% show positive SST trends during the study period with 60% warming significantly. Annual trends exceeded summertime trends at most locations. This indicates that the period of summer-like temperatures has become longer through the record, with a corresponding shortening of the 'winter' reprieve from warm temperatures. The frequency of bleaching-level thermal stress increased three-fold between 1985-91 and 2006-12 - a trend climate model projections suggest will continue. The thermal history data products developed enable needed studies relating thermal history to bleaching resistance and community composition. Such analyses can help identify reefs more resilient to thermal stress.
Project description:Forest inventory studies in the Amazon indicate a large terrestrial carbon sink. However, field plots may fail to represent forest mortality processes at landscape-scales of tropical forests. Here we characterize the frequency distribution of disturbance events in natural forests from 0.01?ha to 2,651?ha size throughout Amazonia using a novel combination of forest inventory, airborne lidar and satellite remote sensing data. We find that small-scale mortality events are responsible for aboveground biomass losses of ~1.7?Pg?C?y(-1) over the entire Amazon region. We also find that intermediate-scale disturbances account for losses of ~0.2?Pg?C?y(-1), and that the largest-scale disturbances as a result of blow-downs only account for losses of ~0.004?Pg?C?y(-1). Simulation of growth and mortality indicates that even when all carbon losses from intermediate and large-scale disturbances are considered, these are outweighed by the net biomass accumulation by tree growth, supporting the inference of an Amazon carbon sink.