J17.1 Role of the carbon cycle on land-atmosphere interactions

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 4:00 PM
Room 240/241 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Pierre Gentine, Columbia University, New York, NY; and L. Lemordant and J. Greent

Plant stomata couple the energy, water and carbon cycles. Photosynthesis requires stomata to open to take up carbon dioxide. In the process water vapor is released as transpiration. As atmospheric CO2 concentration rises, for the same amount of CO2 uptake, less water vapor is transpired, translating into higher water use efficiency. Reduced water vapor losses will increase soil water storage if the leaf area coverage remains similar. This will in turn alter the surface energy partitioning: more heat will be dissipated as sensible heat flux, resulting in possibly higher surface temperatures. In contrast with this common hypothesis, our study shows that the water saved during the growing season by increased WUE can be mobilized by the vegetation and help reduce the maximum temperature of mid-latitude summers and heat waves.

Our results using a combination of regional climate models and general circulation models show that the water saved through higher water use efficiency during the growing season enabled by higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations helps the vegetation to cope with severe heat and dryness in mid-latitude climates. These results demonstrate that consideration of the vegetation carbon cycle is essential to model land-atmosphere interactions, and enhance the accuracy of models especially for extreme events.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner