26 Mar 2024
 | 26 Mar 2024

Ecohydrological responses to solar radiation changes

Yiran Wang, Naika Meili, and Simone Fatichi

Abstract. The potential implementation of future geoengineering projects alters solar radiation to counteract global warming trends. These changes could have effects on ecohydrological systems with impacts which are still poorly quantified. Here, we compute how changes in solar radiation affect global and local near surface meteorological variables by using CMIP6 scenario results and we compute climate sensitivities to solar radiation. These sensitivities are used to construct two sets of numerical experiments: the first focuses on solar radiation changes only, and the second systematically modifies precipitation, air temperature, specific humidity, and wind speed using the CMIP6 derived sensitivities to radiation changes, i.e., including its climate feedback. We use those scenarios as input to a mechanistic ecohydrological model to quantify the responses of the energy and water budget as well as vegetation productivity spanning different biomes and climates.

In the absence of climate feedback, changes in solar radiation tend to reflect mostly in sensible heat changes, with minor effects on the hydrological cycle and vegetation productivity correlates linearly with changes in solar radiation. When climate feedback is included, changes in latent heat and hydrological variables are much more pronounced, mostly because of the temperature and vapor pressure deficit changes associated with solar radiation changes. Vegetation productivity tends to have an asymmetric response with a considerable decrease in gross primary production to a radiation reduction not accompanied by a similar increase with a radiation increase. These results provide important insights on how ecosystems could respond to potential future solar geoengineering programs.

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Yiran Wang, Naika Meili, and Simone Fatichi

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-768', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 Apr 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Yiran Wang, 17 May 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-768', Anonymous Referee #2, 20 Apr 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Yiran Wang, 17 May 2024
Yiran Wang, Naika Meili, and Simone Fatichi

Data sets

CMIP6 The WCRP Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM)

Model code and software

Tethys-Chloris (T&C) - Terrestrial Biosphere Model Simone Fatichi

Yiran Wang, Naika Meili, and Simone Fatichi


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Short summary
Our study uses climate model simulations and process-based ecohydrological modeling to assess the direct and climate feedback induced effects of solar radiation changes on hydrological variables. Results show that solar radiation without climate feedback primarily affects sensible heat with limited effects on hydrology and vegetation. However, climate feedback exacerbates the effects of radiation changes on evapotranspiration and affects vegetation productivity.