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From Long-Term Data to Understanding: Toward a Predictive Ecology
2015 LTER ASM Estes Park, CO - August 30 - September 2, 2015

Evaluation of winter and summer climate responses to mid-1800s deforestation in New England using a regional climate model

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Poster Number: 
Presenter/Primary Author: 
Elizabeth Burakowski
Scott Ollinger, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Gordon Bonan, National Center for Atmopsheric Research, Boulder, CO

Climate responds to deforestation primarily through changes in surface energy fluxes.  The removal of forest decreases surface roughness, increases albedo, and changes the partitioning of sensible and latent heat (e.g., Bowen ratio).  Using the Weather, Research, and Forecasting (WRF) regional climate model, we compare changes in surface energy fluxes in response to historical deforested and present day reforested land cover scenarios in New England.  In winter, decreases in albedo over forest relative to deforested lands result in warmer winter daytime maximum daily temperatures.  At night, decreases in ground heat flux below deciduous broadleaf forest canopies contribute to warmer minimum nighttime temperatures in winter.  When evergreen needleleaf replaces deforested land, ground heat increases and leads to cooler winter nighttime minimum temperatures.  In summer, changes in latent and sensible heat partitioning result in warmer daytime maximum temperatures.  In winter and summer, the magnitude of temperature responses is sensitive to choice of land surface model and radiation parameterizations.  Future work will compare surface energy fluxes collected by eddy covariance towers over forest, corn, and hay to the high-resolution (4-km) regional climate model.