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Chu-Chun Chen, Min-Hui Lo, Eun-Soon Im, Jin-Yi Yu, Yu-Chiao Liang, Wei-Ting Chen, Iping Tang, Chia-Wei Lan, Ren-Jie Wu, and Rong-You Chien

Abstract

Tropical deforestation can result in substantial changes in local surface energy and water budgets, and thus in atmospheric stability. These effects may in turn yield changes in precipitation. The Maritime Continent (MC) has undergone severe deforestation during the past few decades but it has received less attention than the deforestation in the Amazon and Congo rain forests. In this study, numerical deforestation experiments are conducted with global (i.e., Community Earth System Model) and regional climate models (i.e., Regional Climate Model version 4.6) to investigate precipitation responses to MC deforestation. The results show that the deforestation in the MC region leads to increases in both surface temperature and local precipitation. Atmospheric moisture budget analysis reveals that the enhanced precipitation is associated more with the dynamic component than with the thermodynamic component of the vertical moisture advection term. Further analyses on the vertical profile of moist static energy indicate that the atmospheric instability over the deforested areas is increased as a result of anomalous moistening at approximately 800–850 hPa and anomalous warming extending from the surface to 750 hPa. This instability favors ascending air motions, which enhance low-level moisture convergence. Moreover, the vertical motion increases associated with the MC deforestation are comparable to those generated by La Niña events. These findings offer not only mechanisms to explain the local climatic responses to MC deforestation but also insights into the possible reasons for disagreements among climate models in simulating the precipitation responses.

Open access