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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Review article 18 Feb 2019

Review article | 18 Feb 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Land–atmosphere interactions in the tropics

Pierre Gentine1, Adam Massmann1, Benjamin R. Lintner2, Sayed Hamed Alemohammad1, Rong Fu3, Julia K. Green1, Daniel Kennedy1, and Jordi Vilà-Guerau de Arellano4 Pierre Gentine et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, USA
  • 2Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ, USA
  • 3Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Department, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 4Meteorology and Air Quality Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Abstract. The continental tropics play a leading role in the terrestrial water and carbon cycles. Land–atmosphere interactions are integral in the regulation of surface energy, water and carbon fluxes across multiple spatial and temporal scales over tropical continents. We review here some of the important characteristics of tropical continental climates and how land–atmosphere interactions regulate them. Along with a wide range of climates, the tropics manifest a diverse array of land–atmosphere interactions. Broadly speaking, in tropical rainforests, light and energy are typically more limiting than precipitation and water supply for photosynthesis and evapotranspiration; whereas in savanna and semi-arid regions water is the critical regulator of surface fluxes and land–atmosphere interactions. We discuss the impact of the land surface, how it affects shallow clouds and how these clouds can feedback to the surface by modulating surface radiation. Some results from recent research suggest that shallow clouds may be especially critical to land–atmosphere interactions as these regulate the energy budget and moisture transport to the lower troposphere, which in turn affects deep convection. On the other hand, the impact of land surface conditions on deep convection appear to occur over larger, non-local, scales and might be critically affected by transitional regions between the climatologically dry and wet tropics.

Pierre Gentine et al.
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Pierre Gentine et al.
Pierre Gentine et al.
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Latest update: 21 May 2019
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Land–atmosphere interactions are key for the exchange of water, energy and carbon dioxide, especially in the tropics. We here review some of the recent findings on land–atmosphere interactions in the tropics and where we see potential challenges and paths forward.
Land–atmosphere interactions are key for the exchange of water, energy and carbon dioxide,...