Postdoctoral Research

Confronting Multi-scale Complexity in the Dynamics of Regional US Land-atmosphere Coupling Energetics and Their Links to Climate Variability and Change

Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine

Project Summary

    Land-atmosphere coupling in the Central US plays an especially critical role in mediating local weather and climate. How the hydrological cycle will respond to the anthropogenic influences of human water management (e.g. irrigation) and climate change depends on a complex set of land-surface energy exchange mechanisms whose coupled behavior is difficult to understand. Advancing knowledge at this hydrologic interface requires insight into its nonlinear sensitivities through controlled multi-scale numerical experiments, including links to non-local and global feedbacks on column energetics.

    My postdoctoral research, supported by an NSF Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, seeks to clarify the role of land surface coupling in the evolution of organized convection and rainfall in the Central US. My strategy employs novel methodological techniques to isolate and measure components of the energy exchange system between the land and atmosphere, in a uniquely multi-scale virtual laboratory. By deconstructing nonlinear complexities in land-atmosphere coupling feedbacks using individual component amplification, and attributing responses, I am developing a holistic physical framework to answer the following questions:

     (1) What is the role of land surface coupling in generating and sustaining mesoscale convective systems and summer precipitation in the Central US? (2) How critical is explicitly resolved land heterogeneity for realistically representing mesoscale land-convection interactions in the context of regional and global hydrology? (3) Are irrigation-driven hydro-climate feedbacks robust to a realistic representation of convective precipitation in the Central US? (4) How will mesoscale convection and its interaction with the natural and manmade water cycles change in future climate? Do land-surface feedbacks play a role in mediating the response?