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Near-Surface Atmospheric Behavior over Complex Tropical Topography in Puerto Rico Dominated by Seasonal Patterns Despite Frequent Environmental Changes

Year:

2022

Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

International Institute of Tropical Forestry

Source:

Earth Interactions

Description

Understanding near-surface atmospheric behavior in the tropics is imperative given the role of tropical energy fluxes in Earth’s climate cycles, but this area is complicated by a land–atmosphere interaction that includes rugged topography, seasonal weather drivers, and frequent environmental disturbances. This study examines variation in nearsurface atmospheric behaviors in northeastern Puerto Rico using a synthesis of data from lowland and montane locations under different land covers (forest, urban, and rural) during 2008–21, when a severe drought, large hurricanes (Irma and Maria), and the COVID-19 mobility-reducing lockdown occurred. Ceilometer, weather, air quality, radiosonde, and satellite data were analyzed for annual patterns and monthly time series of data and data correlations. The results showed a system that is strongly dominated by easterly trade winds transmitting regional oceanic patterns over terrain. Environmental disturbances affected land–atmosphere interaction for short time periods after events. Events that reduce the land signature (reducing greenness: e.g., drought and hurricanes, or reducing land pollution: e.g., COVID-19 lockdown) were evidenced to strengthen the transmission of the oceanic pattern. The most variation in near-surface atmospheric behavior was seen in the mountainous areas that were influenced by both factors: trade winds, and terrain-induced orographic lifting. As an exception to the rest of the near-surface atmospheric behavior, pollutants other than ozone did not correlate positively or negatively with stronger trade winds at all sites across the region. Instead, these pollutants were hypothesized to be more anthropogenically influenced. Once COVID-19 lockdown had persisted for 3 months, urban pollution decreased and cloud base may have increased.

Citation

Van Beusekom, Ashley E.; González, Grizelle. 2022. Near-Surface Atmospheric Behavior over Complex Tropical Topography in Puerto Rico Dominated by Seasonal Patterns Despite Frequent Environmental Changes. Earth Interactions. 26(1): 151-167. https://doi.org/10.1175/EI-D-21-0020.1.

Cited

Publication Notes

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/64629