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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior

PI: Jonathan A. Foley

Impact of Land Use Change on Drought and Precipitation in the Amazon

This study investigates the relative impacts of land cover change under observed natural variability on atmospheric circulation, evaporative source, fire, and precipitation for the Southern Amazon region of South America using an advanced regional model (the Weather Research and Forecasting model, WRF). In order to investigate the relative impacts of LCC under observed natural variability for South America, the researchers have completed a series of 12 simulations using the WRF model coupled to the NOAH land model with 20km horizontal resolution over the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months, which corresponds to both the region’s dry season and the season of maximal fire occurrence. They believe this approach to be unique due to its focus on the interplay between LCC and natural variability, as well as modeling of changes in evaporative sources and sinks. As such, they believe this will be a valuable contribution to the current state of knowledge on South American LCC, and have important consequences for understanding how LCC may influence the region’s ability to retain its impressive biodiversity and productive food and biofuel crops, as well as alter the occurrence of fire in the region.

Group Member

James S. Gerber, Research Associate