The contribution of reduction in evaporative cooling to higher surface air temperatures during drought

Authors

  • Dongqin Yin,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Hydro-Science and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
    2. Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
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  • Michael L. Roderick,

    Corresponding author
    1. Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
    2. Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
    3. Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, Canberra, Australia
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  • Guy Leech,

    1. Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
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  • Fubao Sun,

    1. Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
    2. Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, Canberra, Australia
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  • Yuefei Huang

    1. State Key Laboratory of Hydro-Science and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
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  • The copyright line for this article was changed on 16 January 2015 after original online publication.

Abstract

Higher temperatures are usually reported during meteorological drought and there are two prevailing interpretations for this observation. The first is that the increase in temperature (T) causes an increase in evaporation (E) that dries the environment. The second states that the decline in precipitation (P) during drought reduces the available water thereby decreasing E, and in turn the consequent reduction in evaporative cooling causes higher T. To test which of these interpretations is correct, we use climatic data (T, P) and a recently released database (CERES) that includes incoming and outgoing shortwave and longwave surface radiative fluxes to study meteorological drought at four sites (parts of Australia, US, and Brazil), using the Budyko approximation to calculate E. The results support the second interpretation at arid sites. The analysis also showed that increases in T due to drought have a different radiative signature from increases in T due to elevated CO2.

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