More than carbon sequestration: Biophysical climate benefits of restored savanna woodlands.
ABSTRACT: Deforestation and climate change are interconnected and represent major environmental challenges. Here, we explore the capacity of regional-scale restoration of marginal agricultural lands to savanna woodlands in Australia to reduce warming and drying resulting from increased concentration of greenhouse gases. We show that restoration triggers a positive feedback loop between the land surface and the atmosphere, characterised by increased evaporative fraction, eddy dissipation and turbulent mixing in the boundary-layer resulting in enhanced cloud formation and precipitation over the restored regions. The increased evapotranspiration results from the capacity deep-rooted woody vegetation to access soil moisture. As a consequence, the increase in precipitation provides additional moisture to soil and trees, thus reinforcing the positive feedback loop. Restoration reduced the rate of warming and drying under the transient increase in the radiative forcing of greenhouse gas emissions (RCP8.5). At the continental scale, average summer warming for all land areas was reduced by 0.18?(o)C from 4.1?(o)C for the period 2056-2075 compared to 1986-2005. For the restored regions (representing 20% of Australia), the averaged surface temperature increase was 3.2?°C which is 0.82?°C cooler compared to agricultural landscapes. Further, there was reduction of 12% in the summer drying of the near-surface soil for the restored regions.
Project description:Earlier vegetation greening under climate change raises evapotranspiration and thus lowers spring soil moisture, yet the extent and magnitude of this water deficit persistence into the following summer remain elusive. We provide observational evidence that increased foliage cover over the Northern Hemisphere, during 1982-2011, triggers an additional soil moisture deficit that is further carried over into summer. Climate model simulations independently support this and attribute the driving process to be larger increases in evapotranspiration than in precipitation. This extra soil drying is projected to amplify the frequency and intensity of summer heatwaves. Most feedbacks operate locally, except for a notable teleconnection where extra moisture transpired over Europe is transported to central Siberia. Model results illustrate that this teleconnection offsets Siberian soil moisture losses from local spring greening. Our results highlight that climate change adaptation planning must account for the extra summer water and heatwave stress inherited from warming-induced earlier greening.
Project description:Drought during the early vegetation growing season (spring through early summer) is a severe natural hazard in the large cropland over North America. Given the recent increasing severity of climate change manifested as surface warming, there has been a growing interest in how warming affects drought and the prospect of drought. Here we show the impact of boreal warming on the spring and early summer drought over North America using Cyclostationary Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis. Northern Hemispheric warming, the leading mode of the surface air temperature variability, has led to a decrease in precipitation, evaporation and moisture transport over the central plain of North America. From a quantitative assessment of atmospheric water budget, precipitation has decreased more than evaporation and moisture transport, resulting in increased (decreased) moisture in the lower troposphere (land surface). Despite the increased moisture content, relative humidity has decreased due to the increased saturation specific humidity arising from the lower-tropospheric warming. The anomaly patterns of the soil moisture and Palmer Drought Severity Index resemble that of the anomalous relative humidity. Results of the present study suggest a credible insight that drought in the main cropland will intensify if the anthropogenic warming continues, exacerbating vulnerability of drought.
Project description:The Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was a significant global warming event in Earth's deep past (56?Mya). The warming across the PETM boundary was driven by a rapid rise in greenhouse gases. The event also coincided with a time of maximum insolation in Northern Hemisphere summer. There is increased evidence that the mean warming was accompanied by enhanced seasonality and/or extremes in precipitation (and flooding) and drought. A high horizontal resolution (50?km) global climate model is used to explore changes in the seasonal cycle of surface temperature, precipitation, evaporation minus precipitation and river run-off for regions where proxy data are available. Comparison for the regions indicates the model accurately simulates the observed changes in these climatic characteristics with North American interior warming and drying, and warming and increased river run-off at other regions. The addition of maximum insolation in Northern Hemisphere summer leads to a drier North America, but wetter conditions at most other locations. Long-range transport of atmospheric moisture plays a critical role in explaining regional changes in the water cycle. Such high-frequency variations in precipitation might also help explain discrepancies or misinterpretation of some climate proxies from the same locations, especially where sampling is coarse, i.e. at or greater than the frequency of precession.This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Hyperthermals: rapid and extreme global warming in our geological past'.
Project description:Present-day land temperatures simulated by state-of-the-art global climate models exhibit considerable uncertainty. Generally it is assumed that these temperature biases do not affect the projected warming in response to rising greenhouse gas concentrations (i.e. drop out by subtracting projected and present-day temperatures), but for specific regions and seasons this assumption is invalid. Here we show that, on the contrary, for large continental regions, such as Europe, state-of-the art global climate models with a warm summer bias project a relatively strong warming. This is because continental summer temperatures depend chiefly on soil drying in response to spring and summer solar radiation increase: models that dry fastest (due to the interaction of clouds, convection and soil hydrology) exhibit the strongest reductions in evaporation and consequently a more pronounced end-of-summer warming. These physical mechanisms acting on a seasonal timescale also govern the long-term climate response to greenhouse forcing over continental regions in summer. Combining these findings, we use the current model biases to reduce the uncertainty range in the projected warming over Europe from 3.6-8.6?°C to 4.6-7.3?°C (a reduction of about 50%). Given the huge potential impacts of the warmest projections on health, agriculture and water management, constraining the range of future summer climate change is imperative for relevant mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Project description:Water evaporating from the ocean sustains precipitation on land. This ocean-to-land moisture transport leaves an imprint on sea surface salinity (SSS). Thus, the question arises of whether variations in SSS can provide insight into terrestrial precipitation. This study provides evidence that springtime SSS in the subtropical North Atlantic ocean can be used as a predictor of terrestrial precipitation during the subsequent summer monsoon in Africa. Specifically, increased springtime SSS in the central to eastern subtropical North Atlantic tends to be followed by above-normal monsoon-season precipitation in the African Sahel. In the spring, high SSS is associated with enhanced moisture flux divergence from the subtropical oceans, which converges over the African Sahel and helps to elevate local soil moisture content. From spring to the summer monsoon season, the initial water cycling signal is preserved, amplified, and manifested in excessive precipitation. According to our analysis of currently available soil moisture data sets, this 3-month delay is attributable to a positive coupling between soil moisture, moisture flux convergence, and precipitation in the Sahel. Because of the physical connection between salinity, ocean-to-land moisture transport, and local soil moisture feedback, seasonal forecasts of Sahel precipitation can be improved by incorporating SSS into prediction models. Thus, expanded monitoring of ocean salinity should contribute to more skillful predictions of precipitation in vulnerable subtropical regions, such as the Sahel.
Project description:Before the Syrian uprising that began in 2011, the greater Fertile Crescent experienced the most severe drought in the instrumental record. For Syria, a country marked by poor governance and unsustainable agricultural and environmental policies, the drought had a catalytic effect, contributing to political unrest. We show that the recent decrease in Syrian precipitation is a combination of natural variability and a long-term drying trend, and the unusual severity of the observed drought is here shown to be highly unlikely without this trend. Precipitation changes in Syria are linked to rising mean sea-level pressure in the Eastern Mediterranean, which also shows a long-term trend. There has been also a long-term warming trend in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding to the drawdown of soil moisture. No natural cause is apparent for these trends, whereas the observed drying and warming are consistent with model studies of the response to increases in greenhouse gases. Furthermore, model studies show an increasingly drier and hotter future mean climate for the Eastern Mediterranean. Analyses of observations and model simulations indicate that a drought of the severity and duration of the recent Syrian drought, which is implicated in the current conflict, has become more than twice as likely as a consequence of human interference in the climate system.
Project description:Large-scale forcing and land-atmosphere interactions on precipitation are investigated with NASA-Unified WRF (NU-WRF) simulations during fast transitions of ENSO phases from spring to early summer of 2010 and 2011. The model is found to capture major precipitation episodes in the 3-month simulations without resorting to nudging. However, the mean intensity of the simulated precipitation is underestimated by 46% and 57% compared with the observations in dry and wet regions in the southwestern and south-central United States, respectively. Sensitivity studies show that large-scale atmospheric forcing plays a major role in producing regional precipitation. A methodology to account for moisture contributions to individual precipitation events, as well as total precipitation, is presented under the same moisture budget framework. The analysis shows that the relative contributions of local evaporation and large-scale moisture convergence depend on the dry/wet regions and are a function of temporal and spatial scales. While the ratio of local and large-scale moisture contributions vary with domain size and weather system, evaporation provides a major moisture source in the dry region and during light rain events, which leads to greater sensitivity to soil moisture in the dry region and during light rain events. The feedback of land surface processes to large-scale forcing is well simulated, as indicated by changes in atmospheric circulation and moisture convergence. Overall, the results reveal an asymmetrical response of precipitation events to soil moisture, with higher sensitivity under dry than wet conditions. Drier soil moisture tends to suppress further existing below-normal precipitation conditions via a positive soil moisture-land surface flux feedback that could worsen drought conditions in the southwestern United States.
Project description:Anthropogenic changes in tropical rainfall are evaluated in a multimodel ensemble of global warming simulations. Major discrepancies on the spatial distribution of these precipitation changes remain in the latest-generation models analyzed here. Despite this uncertainty, we find a number of measures, both global and local, on which reasonable agreement is obtained, notably for the regions of drying trend (negative precipitation anomalies). Models agree on the overall amplitude of the precipitation decreases that occur at the margins of the convective zones, with percent error bars of magnitude similar to those for the tropical warming. Similar agreement is found on a precipitation climate sensitivity defined here and on differential moisture increase inside and outside convection zones, a step in a hypothesized causal path leading to precipitation changes. A measure of local intermodel agreement on significant trends indicates consistent predictions for particular regions. Observed rainfall trends in several data sets show a significant summer drying trend in a main region of intermodel agreement: the Caribbean/Central-American region.
Project description:Global warming is likely to cause overall drying of land surfaces and aridity increasing leading to expansion of dry climate zones. There is an increased risk of extremely arid environment and large deserts developed progressively in the central Asia. However, the key factors causing the drying in mid-Asia remain inconclusive. Here, we analyzed the relationship among precipitation, water vapor transportation in Tarim River Basin (TRB) and Multiple Atmospheric Circulation (MAC) to explore the mechanism of MAC driving the drying in TRB, through comparing MAC between abundant and scarce precipitation years. We found that Westerly Circulation (WC) and Asian Summer Monsoon (ASM) are likely to promote the precipitation respectively. Whereas, they not only have their own influence but also restrict each other and facilitate the forming of peculiar water vapor transport channel for TRB, which is probably to restrain the precipitation and its distribution pattern and accelerate the drying in this region. Our results enrich the findings on mechanisms of wet places becoming wetter while dry areas getting drier under the global warming.
Project description:Persistent abnormal hot weather can cause considerable damage to human society and natural environments. In northern Eurasia, the recent change in summer surface air temperature exhibits a heterogeneous pattern with accelerated warming around the Eastern European Plain and Central Siberia, forming a wave train-like structure. However, the key factors that determine the magnitude and spatial distribution of this summer temperature trend remain unclear. Here, a huge ensemble of general circulation model (GCM) simulations show that the recent summer temperature trend has been intensified by two factors: steady warming induced by external forcing and inhomogeneous warming induced by internal atmosphere-land interactions that amplify quasi-stationary waves. The latter is sensitive to both snow cover and soil moisture anomalies in the spring, suggesting the potential of land surface monitoring for better seasonal prediction of summer temperatures. Dramatic changes in the circumpolar environment, characterised by Eurasian snow variation and Arctic Ocean warming, collectively affect summertime climate via memory effects of the land surface.