Abstract

To elucidate the potential role of vegetation to act as a memory source in the southwestern North America climate system, we explore correlation structures of remotely sensed vegetation dynamics with precipitation, temperature and teleconnection indices over 1982-2006 for six ecoregions. We found that lagged correlations between vegetation dynamics and climate variables are modulated by the dominance of monsoonal or Mediterranean regimes and ecosystem-specific physiological processes. Subtropical and tropical ecosystems exhibit a one month lag positive correlation with precipitation, a zero- to one-month lag negative correlation with temperature, and modest negative effects of sea surface temperature (SST). Mountain forests have a zero month lag negative correlation with precipitation, a zero-one month lag negative correlation with temperature, and no significant correlation with SSTs. Deserts show a strong one-four month lag positive correlation with precipitation, a low zero-two month lag negative correlation with temperature, and a high four-eight month lag positive correlation with SSTs. The ecoregion-specific biophysical memories identified offer an opportunity to improve the predictability of land-atmosphere interactions and vegetation feedbacks onto climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044016
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • El Niño-Southern oscillation
  • Mexico
  • North American monsoon
  • precipitation
  • temperature
  • vegetation phenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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