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Land Surface Processes

In CCR, we study atmosphere-land interactions using models and data. We consider the connections of vegetation, soil moisture, snowpack, and topography to atmospheric processes. Responses of vegetation to climate change, including abrupt ecosystem change, and the influence of vegetation on climate are examined worldwide, including Wisconsin, Hawaii, Australia, and the Arctic.

Principal Investigators

Ankur Desai, Sara Hotchkiss, Zhengyu Liu, Michael Notaro, Jack Williams

Ongoing Projects

Project: PEGASUS-PBL: A simple global model framework for integrating land use change effects into climate models
PI: Ankur Desai
To test the role that land cover has on local surface climate regulation, we have developed surface and atmospheric boundary layer components for the Predicting Ecosystem Goods and Services Under Scenarios (PEGASUS) model, which uses a minimum of unknown parameters and computational expense to construct highly accurate representations of the land surface and lower atmosphere, and found that land use change in tropical rainforest and boreal forest biomes had a disproportionately large impact on local climate regulation by biophysical land-atmosphere exchanges.

Project: Ecosystem response to future climate change and the impact of vegetation feedback in the Southwest United States
PI: Michael Notaro
Funded by the Department of Energy, this project on the Southwest United States applies a vegetation model, climate model, remote sensing data, and observations to: 1) understand the complex seasonal interactions among vegetation, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and climate; 2) project ecological impacts of future climate change; and 3) explore vegetation feedbacks to climate in this monsoon region.

Project: Impact of vegetation on North American climate
PI: Michael Notaro
This NOAA funded project quantifies the influence of vegetation on climate in the fully coupled climate model, NCAR CCSM3.5, and observations, while applying a statistical method called Generalized Equilibrium Feedback Assessment that allows us to separate the influence on climate of the land surface from individual ocean basins.

Project: Roles of forest ecosystem in mitigating climate change impacts through land-surface energy and water processes
PI: Michael Notaro, Zhengyu Liu
Under funding from the US Department of Agriculture, we are applying the fully coupled climate model, NCAR CCSM3.5, to investigate the impact of afforestation in Southeast United States and China on climate through biophysical feedbacks as a possible method to slow global warming trends.

Project: Seasonal and interannual prediction of Saudi Arabian dust storms
PI: Michael Notaro, Zhengyu Liu
A grant from King Saud University is allowing us to explore the cause of dust storms in Saudi Arabia and the potential for seasonal predictability using observations and remote sensing data.

Project: Interdisciplinary study of Tibetan Plateau uplift and its impact on Asian monsoon hydrology
PI: Zhengyu Liu, Peter Molnar
With funding from EAR and NSF, we are examining how high terrain, like Tibet, affects the hydrological cycle of East Asia.

Project: PalEON: A Paleoecological Observatory
PI: Jack Williams
PalEON (the PaleoEcological Observatory Network) is an interdisciplinary team of paleoecologists, ecological statisticians, and ecosystem modelers. Our goal is to reconstruct forest composition, fire regime, and climate in forests across the northeastern US and Alaska over the past 2000 years and then use this to drive and validate terrestrial ecosystem models. We are developing a coherent spatiotemporal inference framework to quantify trends and extreme events in paleoecological and paleoclimatic time series. Variables such as forest composition, fire regime, and moisture balance will be inferred from corresponding paleoecological proxies, with rigorous estimates of uncertainty. This research is supported by NSF awards EF-1065656, EF-1241868. For more information, see or follow @Pal_EON on Twitter.