Use of a land-surface-transfer scheme (LSX) in a global climate model: the response to doubling stomatal resistance

David Pollard, Starley L. Thompson

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228 Scopus citations


One response of vegetation to future increases in atmospheric CO2 may be a widespread increase in stomatal resistance. Such a response would increase plant water usage efficiency while still allowing CO2 assimilation at current rates. The associated reduction in transpiration rates has the potential of causing significant modifications in climate on regional and global scales. This paper describes the effects of a uniform doubling of the stomatal resistance parameterization in a global climate model (GENESIS). The model includes a land-surface transfer scheme (LSX) that accounts for the physical effects of vegetation, including stomatal resistance and transpiration, which is described in detail in an appendix. The atmospheric general circulation model is a heavily modified version of the NCAR Community Climate Model version 1 with new treatments of clouds, penetrative convection, planetary boundary layer mixing, solar radiation, the diurnal cycle, and semi-Lagrangian transport of water vapor. The other surface models include multi-layer models of soil, snow and sea ice, and a 50-m slab ocean mixed layer. The effects of doubling the stomatal resistance parameterization are largest in heavily forested regions: tropical South America, and parts of the Northern Hemispheric boreal forests in Canada, Russia and Siberia in summer. The primary surface changes are a decrease in evapotranspiration, an increase in upward sensible heat flux, and a surface-air warming. Secondary effects include shifts in the ITCZ which cause large increases in precipitation, soil moisture and runoff in western tropical South America, and decreases in these quantities in northern subtropical Africa. Noticeable changes in relative humidity, cloudiness and meridional circulation occur throughout the troposphere. The global effects on atmospheric temperature and specific humidity are small fractions of those found in other doubled CO2 experiments. However, unlike doubled CO2 the signs of those changes combine to give relatively large reductions in relative humidity and cloudiness. It is suggested that the stomatal-resistance effect and other plant responses to large-scale environmental perturbations should be included in models of future climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-161
Number of pages33
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Apr 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Oceanography


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