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Hypothesis One

The combined effects of lost upland grass cover and wetlands desiccation create a "desertification" feedback on local and regional climate that amplifies drought effects and dune destabilization.

In our proposed Grassland Destabilization Experiment (GDEX), we will measure the energy balance (albedo, net radiation, sensible, latent, and ground heat fluxes) and water balance (ET and D) of three surfaces:

  1. Intact upland grassland,
  2. Recently killed grassland (no live leaf area, but litter and soil surface intact), and
  3. Destabilized bare soil.
Although the plots (1.4 ha each) are not large enough to create significant climate feedbacks, they allow us to parameterize and validate MM5's representation of the upland Sand Hills. The presence, strength, and spatial scale of climate feedbacks will be tested with MM5 using a series of hypothetical and realistic landscape scenarios. The latter will include reconstructions of late Holocene land cover (e.g., during a major destabilization event ca. 900 YBP) and recent land cover (based on 20+ y of satellite imagery).