Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 105, Issue 1–2, pp 243–261 | Cite as

On the coupling between vegetation and the atmosphere

  • Isabella M. AngeliniEmail author
  • Michael GarstangEmail author
  • Robert E. Davis
  • Bruce Hayden
  • David R. Fitzjarrald
  • David R. Legates
  • Steven Greco
  • Stephen Macko
  • Vickie Connors
Original Paper


Recent studies suggest that vegetation can drive large-scale atmospheric circulations and substantially influence the hydrologic cycle. We present observational evidence to quantify the extent of coupling between vegetation and the overlying atmosphere. Within the context of vegetation–atmospheric interactions, we reanalyze existing climatological data from springtime leaf emergence, emissivity, dew point temperatures, and historical records of precipitation and forest coverage. We construct new rainfall transects based on a robust global climatology. Using isotopic analysis of precipitation, we find that rain in Amazonia comes primarily from large-scale weather systems coupling interior regions to the ocean and is not directly driven by local evaporation. We find that changes in vegetative cover and state influence the temperature and moisture content of the surface and atmospheric boundary layer but are not reflected in observable precipitation changes. This analysis reaffirms the view that changes in precipitation over continental reaches are a product of complex processes only partly influenced but not controlled by local water sources or vegetation.


Rain Rate Amazon Basin Squall Line Global Meteoric Water Line Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to thank David Hondula (University of Virginia) for his assistance with the precipitation transect mapping and Jacqueline Kemper Shuman (University of Virginia) for providing the source maps of Russian vegetation and biomass. We also gratefully acknowledge David Lutz (University of Virginia) for asking the question that set us off onto this particular intellectual path. We thank Mary Morris who assembled the paper including compiling the figures and bibliography and are grateful to the Environment Energy Division of Simpson Weather Associates for their support in producing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabella M. Angelini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael Garstang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert E. Davis
    • 1
  • Bruce Hayden
    • 1
  • David R. Fitzjarrald
    • 2
  • David R. Legates
    • 3
  • Steven Greco
    • 4
  • Stephen Macko
    • 1
  • Vickie Connors
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Atmospheric Sciences Research CenterUniversity at AlbanyAlbanyUSA
  3. 3.Office of the State ClimatologistUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  4. 4.Simpson Weather Associates, IncCharlottesvilleUSA
  5. 5.Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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