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Changes in Vegetation Condition and Surface Fluxes during NAME 2004

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  • * University of Sonora, Hermosillo, Mexico
  • | + USDA/Agricultural Research Service, Tucson, Arizona
  • | # Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora, Ciudad Obregón, Mexico
  • | @ Instituto del Medio Ambiente del Estado de Sonora, Hermosillo, Mexico
  • | & USDA/Agricultural Research Service, Ames, Iowa
  • | ** USDA/Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Maryland
  • | ++ NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma
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Abstract

The vegetation in the core region of the North American monsoon (NAM) system changes dramatically after the onset of the summer rains so that large changes may be expected in the surface fluxes of radiation, heat, and moisture. Most of this region lies in the rugged terrain of western Mexico and very few measurements of these fluxes have been made in the past. Surface energy balance measurements were made at seven sites in Sonora, Mexico, and Arizona during the intensive observation period (IOP) of the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) in summer 2004 to better understand how land surface vegetation change alters energy flux partitioning. Satellite data were used to obtain time series for vegetation indices and land surface temperature for these sites. The results were analyzed to contrast conditions before the onset of the monsoon with those afterward. As expected, precipitation during the 2004 monsoon was highly variable from site to site, but it fell in greater quantities at the more southern sites. Likewise, large changes in the vegetation index were observed, especially for the subtropical sites in Sonora. However, the changes in the broadband albedo were very small, which was rather surprising. The surface net radiation was consistent with the previous observations, being largest for surfaces that are transpiring and cool, and smallest for surfaces that are dry and hot. The largest evaporation rates were observed for the subtropical forest and riparian vegetation sites. The evaporative fraction for the forest site was highly correlated with its vegetation index, except during the dry spell in August. This period was clearly detected in the land surface temperature data, which rose steadily in this period to a maximum at its end.

Corresponding author address: Christopher J. Watts, Departamento de Física, Universidad de Sonora, Blvd. Encinas y Rosales, Hermosillo, Sonora 83000, México. Email: watts@fisica.uson.mx

This article included in the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) special collection.

Abstract

The vegetation in the core region of the North American monsoon (NAM) system changes dramatically after the onset of the summer rains so that large changes may be expected in the surface fluxes of radiation, heat, and moisture. Most of this region lies in the rugged terrain of western Mexico and very few measurements of these fluxes have been made in the past. Surface energy balance measurements were made at seven sites in Sonora, Mexico, and Arizona during the intensive observation period (IOP) of the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) in summer 2004 to better understand how land surface vegetation change alters energy flux partitioning. Satellite data were used to obtain time series for vegetation indices and land surface temperature for these sites. The results were analyzed to contrast conditions before the onset of the monsoon with those afterward. As expected, precipitation during the 2004 monsoon was highly variable from site to site, but it fell in greater quantities at the more southern sites. Likewise, large changes in the vegetation index were observed, especially for the subtropical sites in Sonora. However, the changes in the broadband albedo were very small, which was rather surprising. The surface net radiation was consistent with the previous observations, being largest for surfaces that are transpiring and cool, and smallest for surfaces that are dry and hot. The largest evaporation rates were observed for the subtropical forest and riparian vegetation sites. The evaporative fraction for the forest site was highly correlated with its vegetation index, except during the dry spell in August. This period was clearly detected in the land surface temperature data, which rose steadily in this period to a maximum at its end.

Corresponding author address: Christopher J. Watts, Departamento de Física, Universidad de Sonora, Blvd. Encinas y Rosales, Hermosillo, Sonora 83000, México. Email: watts@fisica.uson.mx

This article included in the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) special collection.

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