The sensitivity of land-atmosphere coupling to modern agriculture in the northern midlatitudes

Sonali Mcdermid, Carlo Montes, Benjamin I. Cook, Michael J. Puma, Nancy Y. Kiang, Igor Aleinov

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Modern agricultural land cover and management are important as regional climate forcings. Previous work has shown that land cover change can significantly impact key climate variables, including turbulent fluxes, precipitation, and surface temperature. However, fewer studies have investigated how intensive crop management can impact background climate conditions, such as the strength of land-atmosphere coupling and evaporative regime. We conduct sensitivity experiments using a state-of-the-art climate model with modified vegetation characteristics to represent modern crop cover and management, using observed crop-specific leaf area indexes and calendars. We quantify changes in land-atmosphere interactions and climate over intensively cultivated regions situated at transitions between moisture- and energy-limited conditions. Results show that modern intensive agriculture has significant and geographically varying impacts on regional evaporative regimes and background climate conditions. Over the northern Great Plains, modern crop intensity increases the model simulated precipitation and soil moisture, weakening hydrologic coupling by increasing surface water availability and reducing moisture limits on evapotranspiration. In the U.S. Midwest, higher growing season evapotranspiration, coupled with winter and spring rainfall declines, reduces regional soil moisture, while crop albedo changes also reduce net surface radiation. This results overall in reduced dependency of regional surface temperature on latent heat fluxes. In central Asia, a combination of reduced net surface energy and enhanced pre-growing season precipitation amplify the energy-limited evaporative regime. These results highlight the need for improved representations of agriculture in global climate models to better account for regional climate impacts and interactions with other anthropogenic forcings.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)465-484
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Climate
    Volume32
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

    Fingerprint

    agriculture
    crop
    atmosphere
    climate conditions
    regional climate
    evapotranspiration
    climate modeling
    land cover
    surface temperature
    growing season
    soil moisture
    moisture
    intensive agriculture
    climate forcing
    cover crop
    climate effect
    climate
    latent heat flux
    surface energy
    water availability

    Keywords

    • Atmosphere-land interaction
    • Climate sensitivity
    • Feedback

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Atmospheric Science

    Cite this

    Mcdermid, S., Montes, C., Cook, B. I., Puma, M. J., Kiang, N. Y., & Aleinov, I. (2019). The sensitivity of land-atmosphere coupling to modern agriculture in the northern midlatitudes. Journal of Climate, 32(2), 465-484. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0799.1

    The sensitivity of land-atmosphere coupling to modern agriculture in the northern midlatitudes. / Mcdermid, Sonali; Montes, Carlo; Cook, Benjamin I.; Puma, Michael J.; Kiang, Nancy Y.; Aleinov, Igor.

    In: Journal of Climate, Vol. 32, No. 2, 01.01.2019, p. 465-484.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Mcdermid, S, Montes, C, Cook, BI, Puma, MJ, Kiang, NY & Aleinov, I 2019, 'The sensitivity of land-atmosphere coupling to modern agriculture in the northern midlatitudes', Journal of Climate, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 465-484. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0799.1
    Mcdermid, Sonali ; Montes, Carlo ; Cook, Benjamin I. ; Puma, Michael J. ; Kiang, Nancy Y. ; Aleinov, Igor. / The sensitivity of land-atmosphere coupling to modern agriculture in the northern midlatitudes. In: Journal of Climate. 2019 ; Vol. 32, No. 2. pp. 465-484.
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