Substantial Reductions in Cloud Cover and Moisture Transport by Dynamic Plant Responses

Martin Sikma*, Jordi Vilà-Guerau de Arellano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cumulus clouds make a significant contribution to the Earth's energy balance and hydrological cycle and are a major source of uncertainty in climate projections. Reducing uncertainty by expanding our understanding of the processes that drive cumulus convection is vital to the accurate identification of future global and regional climate impacts. Here we adopt an interdisciplinary approach that integrates interrelated scales from plant physiology to atmospheric turbulence. Our explicit simulations mimic the land-atmosphere approach implemented in current numerical weather prediction, and global climate models enable us to conclude that neglecting local plant dynamic responses leads to misrepresentations in the cloud cover and midtropospheric moisture convection of up to 21% and 56%, respectively. Our approach offers insights into the key role played by the active vegetation on atmospheric convective mixing that has recently been identified as the source of half of the variance in global warming projections (i.e., equilibrium climate sensitivity).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1870-1878
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume46
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2019

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Keywords

  • cloud shading
  • heterogeneity
  • land-atmosphere interactions
  • LES
  • plant stomatal responses
  • wind

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