Academic Commons

Articles

The impact of devegetated dune fields on North American climate during the late Medieval Climate Anomaly

Cook, Benjamin I.; Seager, Richard; Miller, Ronald L.

During the Medieval Climate Anomaly, North America experienced severe droughts and widespread mobilization of dune fields that persisted for decades. We use an atmosphere general circulation model, forced by a tropical Pacific sea surface temperature reconstruction and changes in the land surface consistent with estimates of dune mobilization (conceptualized as partial devegetation), to investigate whether the devegetation could have exacerbated the medieval droughts. Presence of devegetated dunes in the model significantly increases surface temperatures, but has little impact on precipitation or drought severity, as defined by either the Palmer Drought Severity Index or the ratio of precipitation to potential evapotranspiration. Results are similar to recent studies of the 1930s Dust Bowl drought, suggesting bare soil associated with the dunes, in and of itself, is not sufficient to amplify droughts over North America.

Subjects

Files

Also Published In

Title
Geophysical Research Letters
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1029/2011GL047566

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Published Here
January 24, 2012
Academic Commons provides global access to research and scholarship produced at Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Academic Commons is managed by the Columbia University Libraries.