Scientists have shown theoretically that the death of trees in one place can affect weather patterns across continents with impacts on ecosystems far away. This concept, called ecoclimate teleconnection, is like El Nino, where climate in North America is altered by warm water in the Pacific Ocean thousands of miles away. This project will test whether ecoclimate teleconnection from Amazon deforestation and tree death in western North America are detectable in far-away observations of temperature or rainfall. Knowing how these connections work and how large an affect they have is critical for making well informed decisions about how we use land for agriculture and pasture and for coordinating global efforts to store carbon by growing forests.
The overarching hypothesis for this project, based on recent work quantifying the theoretical magnitude of ecoclimate teleconnections?where ecosystems in one location impact climate and thus ecosystems in another, is that "Ecoclimate Teleconnections driven by large forest loss events are detectable in observational networks." To test this hypothesis researchers will (1) generate hypotheses of the climate and ecosystem impacts resulting from historical forest loss events, (2) test whether ecoclimate teleconnections are detectable in observations using historical observations, and (3) assess the ability to detect future events using data from National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). This research will advance NEON science by demonstrating how the network can be used for detection of ecoclimate teleconnection events.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.