Hydroclimatic Response to Natural and Anthropogenic Land Cover Change over South America: a focus on the La Plata River Basin

NSF Early Career

The goals of this project are to address the following questions:

1) What is the observed and modeled atmospheric response to variability in land-surface conditions over the continent, and what is the effect on the climate of LPRB?

2) What are the relative impacts of moisture recycling and thermodynamic/dynamic land-atmosphere feedbacks on continental precipitation patterns? How could these feedbacks change under projected future changes in land surface conditions?

3) How does land cover variability affect the hydroclimatology (floods and droughts) of the LPRB? What could be the effects of future land surface conditions on LPRB?

Visualization by David Bock from NCSA.

RELAMPAGO Hydrometeorology Component: Land Surface Controls on Heavy Precipitation and Flooding in the Carcarana River Basin, Argentina

NSF  Physical and Dynamic Meteorology  (PDM)


This proposal seeks to understand the role of the land surface in modulating the observed variability of heavy precipitation and flooding in the Carcarañá River Basin. This basin is located in Argentina and drains east from the Sierras de Cordoba, a mesoscale mountain range east of the Andes, toward the plains. Specifically, the two science questions (SC) addressed in this proposal are:

SC 1. To understand how land cover heterogeneity (including human-modified land cover) impacts initiation and growth of convective precipitation at the local and mesoscale through land-atmosphere exchanges of moisture and energy.
SC 2. To understand how changes in land cover affect the partitioning of rainfall between infiltration/runoff and the residence times of soil moisture and groundwater in the Carcarañá Basin’s terrestrial system.



Collaborative Research: Dynamic Roots as the Biophysical Link Between Deep Moisture and the Atmosphere


Deep soil moisture exhibits longer time-scales of variability than the overlying atmosphere, thus providing inertia and memory to the climate system. This proposal argues that the current conceptualization of land-atmosphere interactions in numerical models lacks an appropriate representation of deep roots to access the slowest-varying moisture reservoir on land. To address this deficiency, our team proposes to develop a mechanistic representation of root-water interactions within the Noah-MP land surface model: Noah-MP-gwRoot. In addition, we will develop a sub-grid hydrologic scheme required to appropriately capture these root interactions. The model synthesizes over 2000 existing rooting depth observations that have allowed an understanding and conceptualization of the mechanistic links between plant rooting depths and deep soil water.