Entry Date:
May 10, 2010

Regional Climate Modeling Over Semi-Arid Regions

The goal of research in the Eltahir group is to advance our understanding of the processes that govern interactions between climate systems and land surface hydrology, vegetation and soil moisture at regional scales. Students in the Eltahir group work to address this goal from several angles. One current project is investigating the surface features that play key roles in the climates of the semi-arid and arid regions of Southwest Asia and West Africa. The project focuses on the effects of dust emissions and irrigation, which are connected to changes in human activity and can therefore vary widely in space and time. A second project aims to improve the simulation of diurnal processes related to surface characteristics, especially surface radiative heating, cumulus cloud cover and convective rainfall. The work focuses on the Maritime Continent region of the tropics, which plays a critical role in global atmospheric circulations. Two projects within the Eltahir group explore issues of climate and water resource management for one of the world's most important watersheds - the Nile River basin. These projects seek to better quantify how available water resources will be affected by future climate change and how these resources might be most optimally divided amongst multiple and often competing users.

In all of these projects, observational data obtained from both remote sensing and ground stations are used to provide insight into the physical processes that drive regional climates. Numerical models act as pseudo-laboratories, allowing exploration of the complex feedback loops that exist between processes acting on scales ranging from tens to many thousands of kilometers. Research within the Eltahir group aims to use available data sources to improve the representation of physical processes within regional climate models, with the ultimate goal of providing reliable prediction of climatic variables under changing conditions.