On the coupling between vegetation and the atmosphere
Recent studies suggest that vegetation can drive large-scale atmospheric circulations and substantially influence the hydrologic cycle. We present observational evidence to quantify the extent of coupling between vegetation and the overlying atmosphere. Within the context of vegetation–atmospheric interactions, we reanalyze existing climatological data from springtime leaf emergence, emissivity, dew point temperatures, and historical records of precipitation and forest coverage. We construct new rainfall transects based on a robust global climatology. Using isotopic analysis of precipitation, we find that rain in Amazonia comes primarily from large-scale weather systems coupling interior regions to the ocean and is not directly driven by local evaporation. We find that changes in vegetative cover and state influence the temperature and moisture content of the surface and atmospheric boundary layer but are not reflected in observable precipitation changes. This analysis reaffirms the view that changes in precipitation over continental reaches are a product of complex processes only partly influenced but not controlled by local water sources or vegetation.