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Christine Wiedinmyer
,
Michael Barlage
,
Mukul Tewari
, and
Fei Chen

Abstract

Physical characteristics of forests and other ecosystems control land–atmosphere exchanges of water and energy and partly dictate local and regional meteorology. Insect infestation and resulting forest dieback can alter these characteristics and, further, modify land–atmosphere exchanges. In the past decade, insect infestation has led to large-scale forest mortality in western North America. This study uses a high-resolution mesoscale meteorological model coupled with a detailed land surface model to investigate the sensitivity of near-surface variables to insect-related forest mortality. The inclusion of this land surface disturbance in the model increased in simulated skin temperature by as much as 2.1 K. The modeled 2-m temperature increased an average of 1 K relative to the default simulations. A latent to sensible heat flux shift with a magnitude of 10%–15% of the available energy in the forested ecosystem was predicted after the inclusion of insect infestation and forest dieback. Although results were consistent across multiple model configurations, the characteristics of forests affected by insect infestations must be better constrained to more accurately predict their impacts. Despite the limited duration of the simulations (one week), these initial results suggest the importance of including large-scale forest mortality due to insect infestation in meteorological models and highlight the need for better observations of the characteristics and exchanges of these disturbed landscapes.

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Daniel F. Steinhoff
,
Andrew J. Monaghan
,
Lars Eisen
,
Michael J. Barlage
,
Thomas M. Hopson
,
Isaac Tarakidzwa
,
Karielys Ortiz-Rosario
,
Saul Lozano-Fuentes
,
Mary H. Hayden
,
Paul E. Bieringer
, and
Carlos M. Welsh Rodríguez

Abstract

The mosquito virus vector Aedes (Ae.) aegypti exploits a wide range of containers as sites for egg laying and development of the immature life stages, yet the approaches for modeling meteorologically sensitive container water dynamics have been limited. This study introduces the Water Height and Temperature in Container Habitats Energy Model (WHATCH’EM), a state-of-the-science, physically based energy balance model of water height and temperature in containers that may serve as development sites for mosquitoes. The authors employ WHATCH’EM to model container water dynamics in three cities along a climatic gradient in México ranging from sea level, where Ae. aegypti is highly abundant, to ~2100 m, where Ae. aegypti is rarely found. When compared with measurements from a 1-month field experiment in two of these cities during summer 2013, WHATCH’EM realistically simulates the daily mean and range of water temperature for a variety of containers. To examine container dynamics for an entire season, WHATCH’EM is also driven with field-derived meteorological data from May to September 2011 and evaluated for three commonly encountered container types. WHATCH’EM simulates the highly nonlinear manner in which air temperature, humidity, rainfall, clouds, and container characteristics (shape, size, and color) determine water temperature and height. Sunlight exposure, modulated by clouds and shading from nearby objects, plays a first-order role. In general, simulated water temperatures are higher for containers that are larger, darker, and receive more sunlight. WHATCH’EM simulations will be helpful in understanding the limiting meteorological and container-related factors for proliferation of Ae. aegypti and may be useful for informing weather-driven early warning systems for viruses transmitted by Ae. aegypti.

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