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Feedbacks of Vegetation on Summertime Climate Variability over the North American Grasslands. Part II: A Coupled Stochastic Model

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  • 1 Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • | 2 Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • | 3 Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • | 4 Ecosystem Science and Technology Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California
  • | 5 Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
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Abstract

A coupled linear model is derived to describe interactions between anomalous precipitation and vegetation over the North American Grasslands. The model is based on biohydrological characteristics in the semiarid environment and has components to describe the water-related vegetation variability, the long-term balance of soil moisture, and the local soil–moisture–precipitation feedbacks. Analyses show that the model captures the observed vegetation dynamics and characteristics of precipitation variability during summer over the region of interest. It demonstrates that vegetation has a preferred frequency response to precipitation forcing and has intrinsic oscillatory variability at time scales of about 8 months. When coupled to the atmospheric fields, such vegetation signals tend to enhance the magnitudes of precipitation variability at interannual or longer time scales but damp them at time scales shorter than 4 months; the oscillatory variability of precipitation at the growing season time scale (i.e., the 8-month period) is also enhanced. Similar resonance and oscillation characteristics are identified in the power spectra of observed precipitation datasets. The model results are also verified using Monte Carlo experiments.

* Corresponding author address: Weile Wang, Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215. wlwang@bu.edu

Abstract

A coupled linear model is derived to describe interactions between anomalous precipitation and vegetation over the North American Grasslands. The model is based on biohydrological characteristics in the semiarid environment and has components to describe the water-related vegetation variability, the long-term balance of soil moisture, and the local soil–moisture–precipitation feedbacks. Analyses show that the model captures the observed vegetation dynamics and characteristics of precipitation variability during summer over the region of interest. It demonstrates that vegetation has a preferred frequency response to precipitation forcing and has intrinsic oscillatory variability at time scales of about 8 months. When coupled to the atmospheric fields, such vegetation signals tend to enhance the magnitudes of precipitation variability at interannual or longer time scales but damp them at time scales shorter than 4 months; the oscillatory variability of precipitation at the growing season time scale (i.e., the 8-month period) is also enhanced. Similar resonance and oscillation characteristics are identified in the power spectra of observed precipitation datasets. The model results are also verified using Monte Carlo experiments.

* Corresponding author address: Weile Wang, Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215. wlwang@bu.edu

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