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A Coupled Biosphere–Atmosphere Climate Model Suitable for Studies of Climatic Change Due to Land Surface Alterations

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  • 1 Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, INPE, Sao Paulo, Brazil
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Abstract

A biosphere model based on BATS (Biosphere–Atmosphere Transfer Scheme) is coupled to a primitive equation global statistical–dynamical model in order to study the climatic impact due to land surface alterations. The fraction of the earth’s surface covered by each vegetation type according to BATS is obtained for each latitude belt. In the control experiment, the mean annual zonally averaged climate is well simulated when compared with observations. Deforestation and desertification experiments are performed. In the deforestation experiment, the evergreen broadleaf tree in the Amazonian region is substituted by short grass; in the desertification experiment the semidesert, and the tall grass and deciduous shrubs are substituted by desert and semidesert in the African continent, respectively.

The results show that in both the experiments there is a reduction in evapotranspiration and precipitation in the perturbed region and an increase in the soil surface temperature, the temperature of the foliage air layer, and the foliage temperature. Also, the latent heat flux decreased in the perturbed cases relative to the control case. To partially compensate for the decrease in latent heating, sensible heat flux increased in the perturbed cases compared with the control case. The changes in the deforestation case are greater in the latitude belt centered at 5°S, where in most part the Amazonian forest is situated. Otherwise, the changes in the desertification are greater in the latitude belt centered at 15°N. When there is also degradation of the African tropical forest (substitution of evergreen broadleaf trees by short grass), the greatest changes occur southward from that region (in the latitude belt centered at 5°N), and the magnitude of the changes are also increased. This shows the important role of the modification of tropical forest when there is degradation of the vegetation in the African region from 20°N to 0°°.

The results regarding the changes in the temperature and in the energy fluxes are in agreement with those of earlier experiments carried out with sophisticated general circulation models, which shows the usefulness of this kind of simple model.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Sergio H. Franchito, INPE, CP 515, 12201-970 Sao Jose dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil.

Email: fran@met.inpe.br

Abstract

A biosphere model based on BATS (Biosphere–Atmosphere Transfer Scheme) is coupled to a primitive equation global statistical–dynamical model in order to study the climatic impact due to land surface alterations. The fraction of the earth’s surface covered by each vegetation type according to BATS is obtained for each latitude belt. In the control experiment, the mean annual zonally averaged climate is well simulated when compared with observations. Deforestation and desertification experiments are performed. In the deforestation experiment, the evergreen broadleaf tree in the Amazonian region is substituted by short grass; in the desertification experiment the semidesert, and the tall grass and deciduous shrubs are substituted by desert and semidesert in the African continent, respectively.

The results show that in both the experiments there is a reduction in evapotranspiration and precipitation in the perturbed region and an increase in the soil surface temperature, the temperature of the foliage air layer, and the foliage temperature. Also, the latent heat flux decreased in the perturbed cases relative to the control case. To partially compensate for the decrease in latent heating, sensible heat flux increased in the perturbed cases compared with the control case. The changes in the deforestation case are greater in the latitude belt centered at 5°S, where in most part the Amazonian forest is situated. Otherwise, the changes in the desertification are greater in the latitude belt centered at 15°N. When there is also degradation of the African tropical forest (substitution of evergreen broadleaf trees by short grass), the greatest changes occur southward from that region (in the latitude belt centered at 5°N), and the magnitude of the changes are also increased. This shows the important role of the modification of tropical forest when there is degradation of the vegetation in the African region from 20°N to 0°°.

The results regarding the changes in the temperature and in the energy fluxes are in agreement with those of earlier experiments carried out with sophisticated general circulation models, which shows the usefulness of this kind of simple model.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Sergio H. Franchito, INPE, CP 515, 12201-970 Sao Jose dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil.

Email: fran@met.inpe.br

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