Anthropogenic Modification of Vapours Flows and Tipping Points in the Earth System

Compare the map of soil moisture – atmosphere couplings against Gordon et al’s 2005 map of changes in vapour flows in the Human modification of global water vapor flows from the land surface.

PNAS Vapour Flows

Figure shows spatial distribution of net changes in vapor flows between potential vegetation and actual deforested and irrigated vegetation in mm/yr. The aggregated global change as compared with the potential vegetation is small (400 km3/yr), but the map illustrates the large spatial redistribution of water vapor flows from the land surface at the global scale.

Note that the location of increases in vapor flows in irrigation matches up with several of the hotspots identified in the map of soil moisture – atmosphere couplings – central Great Plains of North America, and India. Change occurs also in less intense hot spots appear in South America and China. Consquently, the combination of these two papers predicts that irrigation should have altered the local climate in these regions more than in other regions.

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