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Water & Energy Cycles

This investigation examines how climate warming is affecting groundwater storage, the relation of these effects to permafrost distribution and soil active-layer depth, and how those changes are affecting vegetation productivity and evapotranspiration (ET). We hypothesize that regional drought stress in boreal regions occurs despite increasing trends in precipitation and terrestrial water storage due to changes in plant-available moisture and capabilities of boreal ecosystems to satisfy increasing atmospheric moisture demands under a warming climate. We apply synergistic multi-sensor satellite observations, in-situ measurements and hydro-ecological process modeling to quantify recent changes in terrestrial water storage, plant available moisture and biophysical controls on vegetation productivity and ET for boreal-Arctic biomes in Eurasia. We make full use of the most recent advances in satellite remote sensing and numerical modeling to investigate complex physical processes in greater detail than could previously be accomplished. The GRACE data provides unprecedented high-quality constrains on the water cycle measuring the total water storage of a given region. Alternative storage estimates from PWBM and MODIS provide potentially finer resolution information on sub-grid scale heterogeneity and underlying processes driving regional storage changes, with specific linkages to other elements of the terrestrial water balance, and energy and carbon cycles. This research addresses NASA science objectives by advancing our scientific understanding of the Earth system using synergistic multi-sensor satellite remote sensing data with state-of-the-art biophysical models. In terms of hydrology science, this project will help better quantify the large-scale dynamics of the terrestrial hydrosphere and improve the understanding, magnitude, trend, timing, and partitioning of terrestrial water stores and fluxes. We will resolve apparent discrepancies between recent observations of widespread boreal drought and regional observations and model based projections of precipitation and terrestrial water storage increases and will clarify the influence of vegetation on ET and the regional water balance in a warming climate.

Project PI: Isabella Velicogna/University of California, Irvine

University of California, Irvine 3226 Croul Hall Mail Code: 3100 Irvine, CA 92697

Phone: (949) 824-5419

Email: isabella@uci.edu

http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=5518  

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Started: Aug 10, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 16, 2010

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