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Toshihisa Matsui, Venkataraman Lakshmi, and Eric E. Small

Abstract

Substantial evolution of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NVDI)-derived vegetation cover (Fg) exists in the southwestern United States and Mexico. The intraseasonal and wet-/dry-year fluctuations of Fg are linked to observed precipitation in the North American monsoon system (NAMS). The manner in which the spatial and temporal variability of Fg influences the land–atmosphere energy and moisture fluxes, and associated likelihood of moist convection in the NAMS regions, is examined. For this, the regional climate model (RCM) is employed, with three different Fg boundary conditions to examine the influence of intraseasonal and wet-/dry-year vegetation variability. Results show that a strong link exists between evaporative fraction (EF), surface temperature, and relative humidity in the boundary layer (BL), which is consistent with a positive soil moisture feedback. However, contrary to expectations, higher Fg does not consistently enhance EF across the NAMS region. This is because the low soil moisture values simulated by the land surface model (LSM) yield high canopy resistance values throughout the monsoon season. As a result, the experiment with the lowest Fg yields the greatest EF and precipitation in the NAMS region, and also modulates regional atmospheric circulation that steers the track of tropical cyclones. In conclusion, the simulated influence of vegetation on land–atmosphere exchanges depends strongly on the canopy stress index parameterized in the LSM. Therefore, a reliable dataset, at appropriate scales, is needed to calibrate transpiration schemes and to assess simulated and realistic vegetation–atmosphere interactions in the NAMS region.

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