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Title: Regional Hydro-Climatic Impacts of Contemporary Amazonian Deforestation
Authors: Khanna, Jaya
Advisors: Medvigy, David
Contributors: Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Department
Keywords: Amazon
Subjects: Atmospheric sciences
Environmental science
Hydrologic sciences
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: More than 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been cleared in the past three decades triggering important climatological and societal impacts. This thesis is devoted to identifying and explaining the regional hydroclimatic impacts of this change employing multidecadal satellite observations and numerical simulations providing an integrated perspective on this topic. The climatological nature of this study motivated the implementation and application of a cloud detection technique to a new geostationary satellite dataset. The resulting sub daily, high spatial resolution, multidecadal time series facilitated the detection of trends and variability in deforestation triggered cloud cover changes. The analysis was complimented by satellite precipitation, reanalysis and ground based datasets and attribution with the variable resolution Ocean-Land-Atmosphere-Model. Contemporary Amazonian deforestation affects spatial scales of hundreds of kilometers. But, unlike the well-studied impacts of a few kilometers scale deforestation, the climatic response to contemporary, large scale deforestation is neither well observed nor well understood. Employing satellite datasets, this thesis shows a transition in the regional hydroclimate accompanying increasing scales of deforestation, with downwind deforested regions receiving 25% more and upwind deforested regions receiving 25% less precipitation from the deforested area mean. Simulations robustly reproduce these shifts when forced with increasing deforestation alone, suggesting a negligible role of large-scale decadal climate variability in causing the shifts. Furthermore, deforestation-induced surface roughness variations are found necessary to reproduce the observed spatial patterns in recent times illustrating the strong scale-sensitivity of the climatic response to Amazonian deforestation. This phenomenon, inconsequential during the wet season, is found to substantially affect the regional hydroclimate in the local dry and parts of transition seasons, hence occurring in atmospheric conditions otherwise less conducive to thermal convection. Evidence of this phenomenon is found at two large scale deforested areas considered in this thesis. Hence, the ‘dynamical’ mechanism, which affects the seasons most important for regional ecology, emerges as an impactful convective triggering mechanism. The phenomenon studied in this thesis provides context for thinking about the climate of a future, more patchily forested Amazonia, by articulating relationships between climate and spatial scales of deforestation.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

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