Publications

Land–atmosphere interactions in the tropics – a review

Gentine, Pierre; Massmann, Adam; Lintner, Benjamin R.; Hamed Alemohammad, Sayed; Fu, Rong; Green, Julia K.; Kennedy, Daniel; Vilà-Guerau De Arellano, Jordi

Summary

The continental tropics play a leading role in the terrestrial energy, water, and carbon cycles. Land–atmosphere interactions are integral in the regulation of these 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 rainforest climates, light and energy are typically more limiting than precipitation and water supply for photosynthesis and evapotranspiration (ET), whereas in savanna and semi-arid climates, water is the critical regulator of surface fluxes and land–atmosphere interactions. We discuss the impact of the land surface, how it affects shallow and deep clouds, and how these clouds in turn can feed back to the surface by modulating surface radiation and precipitation. Some results from recent research suggest that shallow clouds may be especially critical to land–atmosphere interactions. On the other hand, the impact of land-surface conditions on deep convection appears to occur over larger, nonlocal scales and may be a more relevant land–atmosphere feedback mechanism in transitional dry-to-wet regions and climate regimes.