Effects of Land Use on Land-Atmosphere Fluxes and Moisture Transport in the North American Monsoon Region

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 10:50 AM
127ABC (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Theodore J. Bohn, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; and G. Mascaro, D. D. White, and E. R. Vivoni

Southern Arizona and New Mexico receive 40-60% of their annual rainfall in the summer, as part of the North American Monsoon (NAM). Modeling studies suggest that 15-25% of this rainfall first falls on Mexican land, is transpired by vegetation, and subsequently is transported northward across the border to the US. The main source regions in Mexico include two primary landcover types in Sonora and Sinaloa: subtropical scrub and tropical deciduous forests in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental; and large expanses of irrigated agriculture along the Gulf of California. The foothill ecosystems, known for their rapid greening and large transpiration rates at the onset of the monsoon, are under threat from deforestation for grazing activities. On the other hand, irrigated agriculture in both the winter and summer has shifted the seasonality of evaporative fluxes and introduced socio-economic factors into their interannual variability. In this study, we examine the differences in spatial and temporal characteristics of evapotranspiration yielded by current and pre-industrial land cover / land use. To this end, we employ the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) land surface model at 1/16 degree resolution, driven by gridded meteorological observations and MODIS LAI, NDVI, and albedo products, across the NAM region (Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico). We compare the magnitude and timing of land-atmosphere fluxes given by both pre-industrial and current land cover/use, as well as the land cover under several possible alternative land use scenarios. We identify the regions where the largest changes in magnitude and timing of evapotranspiration have occurred, as well as the regions and land use changes that could produce the largest changes in future evapotranspiration under different scenarios. Finally, we explore the consequences these effects have for monsoon moisture transport.