Amazon basin climate under global warming: the role of the sea surface temperature

Harris, Phil P.; Huntingford, Chris; Cox, Peter M.. 2008 Amazon basin climate under global warming: the role of the sea surface temperature. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B, 363 (1498). 1753-1759.

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The Hadley Centre coupled climate-carbon cycle model (HadCM3LC) predicts loss of the Amazon rainforest in response to future anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. In this study, the atmospheric component of HadCM3LC is used to assess the role of simulated changes in mid-21st century sea-surface temperature (SST) in Amazon basin climate change. When the full HadCM3LC SST anomalies are used, the atmosphere model reproduces the Amazon basin climate change exhibited by HadCM3LC, including much of the reduction in Amazon basin rainfall. This rainfall change is shown to be the combined effect of SST anomalies in both the tropical Atlantic and Pacific, with roughly equal contributions from each basin. The greatest rainfall reduction occurs from May to October, outside of the mature South American Monsoon (SAM) season. This dry season response is the combined effect of a more rapid warming of the tropical North Atlantic relative to the south, and warm SST anomalies in the tropical east Pacific. Conversely, a weak enhancement of mature SAM season rainfall in response to Atlantic SST change is suppressed by the atmospheric response to Pacific SST. This net wet season response is sufficient to prevent dry season soil moisture deficits from being recharged through the SAM season, leading to perennial a soil moisture reduction and an associated 30% reduction in annual Amazon basin net primary productivity (NPP). A further 23% NPP reduction occurs in response to a 3.5 K warmer air temperature associated with a global mean SST warming.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: Other/Admin
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Harding (to July 2011)
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access Paper EXiS Open Choice. The definitive version of this paper is available at
Additional Keywords: climate change, tropical forest, sea surface temperature, carbon cycle, global warming
NORA Subject Terms: Meteorology and Climatology
Earth Sciences
Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 08 Apr 2008 10:54 +0 (UTC)

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