Feedbacks of Vegetation on Summertime Climate Variability over the North American Grasslands. Part I: Statistical Analysis
Feedbacks of vegetation on summertime climate variability over the North American Grasslands are analyzed using the statistical technique of Granger causality. Results indicate that NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) anomalies early in the growing season have a statistically measurable effect on precipitation and surface temperature later in summer. In particular, higher means and/or decreasing trends of NDVI anomalies tend to be followed by lower rainfall but higher temperatures
... er temperatures during July through September. These results suggest that initially enhanced vegetation may deplete soil moisture faster than normal, and thereby induce drier and warmer climate anomalies via the strong soil moisture/precipitation coupling in these regions. Consistent with this soil moisture/precipitation feedback mechanism, interactions between temperature and precipitation anomalies in this region indicate that moister and cooler conditions are also related to increases in precipitation during the preceding months. Because vegetation responds to soil moisture variations, interactions between vegetation and precipitation generate oscillations in NDVI anomalies at growing-season time scales, which are identified in the temporal and the spectral characteristics of the precipitation-NDVI system. Spectral analysis of the precipitation-NDVI system also indicates that: 1) long-term interactions (i.e. interannual and longer time-scales) between the two anomalies tend to enhance one another; 2) short-term interactions (less than two months) tend to damp one another, and; 3) intermediary-period interactions (4-8 months) are oscillatory. Together, these results support the hypothesis that vegetation may influence summertime climate variability via the land/atmosphere hydrological cycles over these semiarid grasslands.