Future Summer Drying in the U.S. Corn Belt and the Role of Midlatitude Storm Tracks
During the summer, the midwestern United States, which covers the main U.S. corn belt, has a net loss of surface water as evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation. The net moisture gain into the atmosphere is transported out of the region to the northern high latitudes through transient eddy moisture fluxes. How this process may change in the future is not entirely clear despite the fact that the corn-belt region is responsible for a large portion of the global supply of corn and soybeans. We find that increased CO2 and the associated warming increase evapotranspiration while precipitation reduces in the region, leading to further reduction in precipitation minus evaporation in the future. At the same time, the poleward transient moisture flux increases, leading to enhanced atmospheric moisture export from the corn-belt region. However, storm-track intensity is generally weakened in the summer because of a reduced north–south temperature gradient associated with amplified warming in the midlatitudes. The intensified transient eddy moisture transport as the storm track weakens can be reconciled by the stronger mean moisture gradient in the future. This is found to be caused by the climatological low-level jet transporting more moisture into the Great Plains region as a result of the thermodynamic mechanism under warmer conditions. Our results, for the first time, show that in the future the U.S. Midwest corn belt will experience more hydrological stress due to intensified transient eddy moisture export, leading to drier soils in the region.
- [15200442 - Journal of Climate] Future Summer Drying in the U.S. Corn Belt and the Role of Midlatitude Storm Tracks.pdf application/pdf 9 MB Download File
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- Journal of Climate