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Yizhou Zhuang, Amir Erfanian, and Rong Fu


Although the influence of sea surface temperature (SST) forcing and large-scale teleconnection on summer droughts over the U.S. Great Plains has been suggested for decades, the underlying mechanisms are still not fully understood. Here we show a significant correlation between low-level moisture condition over the U.S. Southwest in spring and rainfall variability over the Great Plains in summer. Such a connection is due to the strong influence of the Southwest dryness on the zonal moisture advection to the Great Plains from spring to summer. This advection is an important contributor for the moisture deficit during spring to early summer, and so can initiate warm season drought over the Great Plains. In other words, the well-documented influence of cold season Pacific SST on the Southwest rainfall in spring, and the influence of the latter on the zonal moisture advection to the Great Plains from spring to summer, allows the Pacific climate variability in winter and spring to explain over 35% of the variance of the summer precipitation over the Great Plains, more than that can be explained by the previous documented west Pacific–North America (WPNA) teleconnection forced by tropical Pacific SST in early summer. Thus, this remote land surface feedback due to the Southwest dryness can potentially improve the predictability of summer precipitation and drought onsets over the Great Plains.

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Ying Shi, Miao Yu, Amir Erfanian, and Guiling Wang


Using the Regional Climate Model (RegCM) coupled with the Community Land Model (CLM) including modules of carbon–nitrogen cycling (CN) and vegetation dynamics (DV), this study evaluates the performance of the model with different capacity of representing vegetation processes in simulating the present-day climate over China based on three 21-yr simulations driven with boundary conditions from the ERA-Interim reanalysis data during 1989–2009. For each plant functional type (PFT), the plant pheonology, density, and fractional coverage in RegCM-CLM are all prescribed as static from year to year; RegCM-CLM-CN prescribes static fractional coverage but predicts plant phenology and density, and RegCM-CLM-CN-DV predicts plant phenology, density, and fractional coverage. Compared against the observational data, all three simulations reproduce the present-day climate well, including the wind fields, temperature and precipitation seasonal cycles, extremes, and interannual variabilities. Relative to RegCM-CLM, both RegCM-CLM-CN and RegCM-CLM-CN-DV perform better in simulating the interannual variability of temperature and spatial distribution of mean precipitation, but produce larger biases in the mean temperature field. RegCM-CLM-CN overestimates leaf area index (LAI), which enhances the cold biases and alleviates the dry biases found in RegCM-CLM. RegCM-CLM-CN-DV underestimates vegetation cover and/or stature, and hence overestimates surface albedo, which enhances the wintertime cold and dry biases found in RegM-CLM. During summer, RegCM-CLM-CN-DV overestimates LAI in south and east China, which enhances the cold biases through increased evaporative cooling; in the west where evaporation is low, the albedo effect of the underestimated vegetation cover is still dominant, leading to enhanced cold biases relative to RegCM-CLM.

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Yelin Jiang, Guiling Wang, Weiguang Liu, Amir Erfanian, Qing Peng, and Rong Fu


This study investigates the potential effects of historical deforestation in South America using a regional climate model driven with reanalysis data. Two different sources of data were used to quantify deforestation during the 1980s to 2010s, leading to two scenarios of forest loss: smaller but spatially continuous in scenario 1 and larger but spatially scattered in scenario 2. The model simulates a generally warmer and drier local climate following deforestation. Vegetation canopy becomes warmer due to reduced canopy evapotranspiration, and ground becomes warmer due to more radiation reaching the ground. The warming signal for surface air is weaker than for ground and vegetation, likely due to reduced surface roughness suppressing the sensible heat flux. For surface air over deforested areas, the warming signal is stronger for the nighttime minimum temperature and weaker or even becomes a cooling signal for the daytime maximum temperature, due to the strong radiative effects of albedo at midday, which reduces the diurnal amplitude of temperature. The drying signals over deforested areas include lower atmospheric humidity, less precipitation, and drier soil. The model identifies the La Plata basin as a region remotely influenced by deforestation, where a simulated increase of precipitation leads to wetter soil, higher ET, and a strong surface cooling. Over both deforested and remote areas, the deforestation-induced surface climate changes are much stronger in scenario 2 than scenario 1; coarse-resolution data and models (such as in scenario 1) cannot represent the detailed spatial structure of deforestation and underestimate its impact on local and regional climates.

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