Land-Atmosphere Coupling: The Feedback of Soil Moisture into Surface Temperature in Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East
Future climate projections suggest that beside changes in mean climate there will also be shifts in extremes (i.e. droughts, floods, heat waves), partly due to enhanced interannual variability. In the already warm Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) it is crucial to investigate possible changes in extreme temperature and try to understand all the relative mechanisms and feedbacks that cause or intensify severe heat events. One of these feedbacks is the soil moisture – atmosphere interaction. In general, when there is no sufficient water content in the soil, evapotranspiration is low, leading to higher near surface air temperatures, due to less evaporative cooling. In the present study, we explore this interaction, for the summer season. We identify sub-regions sensitive to this feedback in the EMME domain using the classical hydrology framework which defines evapotranspiration regimes as a function of soil moisture and latent heat flux. Moreover, we use the correlation of temperature and evapotranspiration as a diagnostic of this coupling. The data used cover the period 1951–2099 and come from the Hadley Centre’s regional climate model PRECIS, driven by the A1B emissions scenario. Finally, we discuss possible alterations of the relationship between soil moisture and surface temperature throughout the twenty-first century.
KeywordsSoil Moisture Heat Wave Regional Climate Model Latent Heat Flux Surface Latent Heat Flux
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement n° 226144 (C8 Project).
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