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Water Cycle between Ocean and Land and its Influence on Climate Variability over the South American-Atlantic Regions as Determined by QuikSCAT /SeaWinds Observations (2006-2010)

Project Summary

   Shortages of water resources as a result of climate change and increasing land use, over the monsoon regions where most of the global population is concentrated, are among the most pressing issues for global sustainable development in the 21st century. Water resources depend on the amount, as well as the distribution of the precipitation over land, which largely relies on moisture transport from oceans. About 18% of global fresh water is cycled between the Amazon and tropical Atlantic in the form of moisture transport and river discharge. Through our previous OVWST project, we found that oceanic moisture transport determines the wet season onset and supplies moisture for wet season rainfall over the Amazon. The latent heat of Amazonian rainfall can significantly influence ocean surface winds and the ITCZ over the Northern and tropical Atlantic Ocean. The amount of oceanic moisture that will precipitate over land and will contribute to river discharge significantly depends on land surface/vegetation processes. These hydrological process link the climate variability over South America and the tropical Atlantic. Thus, for the purpose of improving climate prediction in this region, an integrated approach is needed. This project aims to apply the QuikSCAT and SeaWinds backscatter (so) and ocean surface winds and their non-standard products to address this link between land and ocean.

   In recent years, QuikSCAT moisture transport has been developed. A multi-year MODIS vegetation data has been validated for the Amazon region. In-situ LBA data have been quality checked and made available to the research community. During the period of the upcoming OVWST program, QuikSCAT will provide six or more years of observations, almost a full cycle of interannual variations in the tropical Atlantic and land areas in this vicinity. These advances in QuikSCAT and other satellite and in-situ observations and our previous results enable us to apply QuikSCAT and SeaWinds data to the hydrological coupling between land and ocean. The objectives of this project are to:

  • Determine the influence of oceanic moisture transport on the South American monsoon onset, demise, and rainfall pattern, and their interannual variations using the QuikSCAT moisture transport product; explore use of this product for the prediction of wet season onset and demise over South America; and evaluate the realism of the moisture transport derived from reanalysis products;

  • Use high resolution so and in-situ observations over the Amazon to identify the signals related to canopy wetness, to characterize its occurrence and spatial pattern, and to explore joint use of tandem QuikSCAT/SeaWinds and MODIS to improve the observations of vegetation in cloudy and rainy conditions and its seasonality over the Amazon;

  • Examine the influence of South American rainfall on the interannual variations over the tropical Atlantic during boreal spring, particularly on the onset of Atlantic Nino and inter-hemispheric mode of SST anomalies in that region.

   Given the importance of the diurnal cycle and high resolution observations for studies over land, we will begin our analysis using tandem QuikSCAT and SeaWinds observations for the period of 10 April to 24 October 2003. The results will be used to determine the trade-off between higher spatial and temporal resolutions and to evaluate our results obtained from the QuikSCAT-only observations.

Central Questions

  • How does hydrological cycle in the South America continent influence the climate variability of the Atlantic Ocean?

  • What role does the South America continent play in linking the climate variability of the Pacific to that of the Atlantic Ocean?

Recent presentations

    AGU presentation-Nicole
    AGU presentation-Fu


Wang and Fu. 2007
   Wang et al. 2008
   Han et al. 2008