Interannual, sub-seasonal and spatial variations in growing season surface heat fluxes for the U.S. Corn Belt

Mikael P. Hiestand, Andrew M. Carleton, Kenneth J. Davis

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2 Scopus citations


Spatiotemporal variations in surface latent (LE) and sensible (H) heat fluxes from croplands and patches of remnant deciduous forest in the Midwest U.S. Corn Belt have been proposed to trigger “nonclassical mesoscale circulations” (NCMCs) in the atmosphere's boundary layer and moist convection, under suitable synoptic conditions. However, prior to evaluating the link between land use and land cover (LULC), NCMCs, and precipitation for the Corn Belt, it is necessary to better understand the interannual, sub-seasonal, and spatial variations in surface heat fluxes. Here, a nine-year warm season “climatology” (1999–2007) of daily afternoon and early evening averages of LE and H from two flux towers, representative of cropland (Bondville, IL) and deciduous forest (Morgan Monroe State Forest, IN), is analyzed for sub-seasonal and interannual variations in the convective fluxes. Wilcoxon signed rank tests show significant growing season and sub-seasonal anomalies in LE and H at both flux tower sites. Structural equation modeling relates these inter-growing season anomalies in LE and H to variations in net radiation, vapor pressure deficit, and temperature, while MODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index data link some of the sub-seasonal variations in the surface energy balance to phenology at the start of the growing season. Additional composite analysis of LE and H from the North American Regional Reanalysis shows characteristic spatial heterogeneities and significant differences in LE and H for different synoptic circulation patterns related to the variations in net radiation and LULC. These results highlight the importance of considering the sub-seasonal and spatial variations in surface heat fluxes of the Corn Belt for the range of synoptic conditions, within the context of this region's recent interannual climate variations and will help inform the search for LULC-influenced moist convection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109377
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Atmospheric Science

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