Publication Abstracts

Miller and Russell 2004

Miller, J.R., and G.L. Russell, 2004: Modeling feedbacks between water and vegetation in the North African climate system. In Scientists Debate Gaia: The Next Century. S.H. Schneider, J.R. Miller, E. Crist, and P.J. Boston, Eds. MIT Press, pp. 297-308.

Not only is water essential for life on Earth, but life itself affects the global hydrologic cycle and, consequently, the climate of the planet. We use a global climate model to examine how the presence of vegetation can affect the hydrologic cycle in a particular region. A control for the present climate is compared with a model experiment in which the Sahara Desert is replaced be vegetation in the form of trees and shrubs common to the Sahel region. A second model experiment is designed to identify the separate roles of two different effects of vegetation: the modified albedo and the presence of roots that can extract moisture from deeper soil layers. The results show that the presence of vegetation leads to increases in precipitation and soil moisture in the western Sahara. In the eastern Sahara, the changes are less clear, the increase in soil moisture is greater when the desert albedo is replaced by the vegetation albedo than when both the vegetation albedo and roots are added. The effect of roots is to withdraw water from deeper layers during the dry season. From a Gaian perspective, one implication of this study is that the insertion of vegetation into North Africa modified the hydrologic cycle by increasing the precipitation and soil moisture so that environmental conditions favorable the vegetation are enhanced.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Miller, J. R. and Russell, G. L.},
  editor={Schneider, S. H. and Miller, J. R. and Crist, E. and Boston, P. J.},
  title={Modeling feedbacks between water and vegetation in the North African climate system},
  booktitle={Scientists Debate Gaia: The Next Century},
  publisher={MIT Press},

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RIS Citation

ID  - mi08900n
AU  - Miller, J. R.
AU  - Russell, G. L.
ED  - Schneider, S. H.
ED  - Miller, J. R.
ED  - Crist, E.
ED  - Boston, P. J.
PY  - 2004
TI  - Modeling feedbacks between water and vegetation in the North African climate system
BT  - Scientists Debate Gaia: The Next Century
SP  - 297
EP  - 308
PB  - MIT Press
CY  - Boston
ER  -

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