The Impact of Ecosystem Functional Type Changes on the La Plata Basin Climate

Año Publicación:  2013
Responsable: S. J. Lee et al.
Journal, Volumen y páginas:
Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 30(5):1387-1405


S. J. Lee, E. Berbery & D. Alcaraz-Segura


In this paper, the effects of land cover changes on the climate of the La Plata Basin in southern South America are investigated using the Weather and Research Forecasting (WRF) Model configured on a 30/10-km two-way interactive nested grid. To assess the regional climate changes resulting from land surface changes, the standard land cover types are replaced by time-varying Ecosystem Functional Types (EFTs), which is a newly devised land-cover classification that characterizes the spatial and interannual variability of surface vegetation dynamics. These variations indicate that natural and anthropogenic activities have caused changes in the surface physical parameters of the basin, such as albedo and roughness length, that contributed to regional climate changes. EFTs are obtained from functional attributes of vegetation computed from properties of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) to represent patches of the land surface with homogeneous energy and gas exchanges with the atmosphere. Four simulations are conducted, each experimental period ranging from September to November in two contrasting years, 1988 and 1998. The influence of an identical EFT change on the surface heat fluxes, 2-m temperature and humidity, 10-m winds, convective instabilities and large-scale moisture fluxes and precipitation are explored for 1988 (a dry year) and 1998 (a wet year). Results show that the surface and atmospheric climate has a larger response to the same EFT changes in a dry year for 2-m temperature and 10-m wind; the response is larger in a wet year for 2-m water vapor mixing ratio, convective available potential energy, vertically integrated moisture fluxes and surface precipitation. For EFTs with high productivity and a weak seasonal cycle, the nearsurface temperature during the spring of 1988 and 1998 increased by as much as 1°C in the central and western portions of La Plata Basin. Additionally, for higher productivity EFTs, precipitation differences were generally positive in both dry and wet years, although the patterns are not uniform and exhibit certain patchiness with drier conditions.

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