Malay Archipelago forest loss to cash crops and urban expansion contributes to weaken the Asian summer monsoon: An atmospheric modeling study

Shihming Huang, Leo Oey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the Malay Archipelago (Indonesia and Malaysia), forest is lost on large scales to cash-crop plantation (oil palm, rubber, and acacia, including fallow lands) and urban expansion. Deforestation changes land surface properties and fluxes, thereby modifying wind and rainfall. Despite the expansive land-cover change over a climatically sensitive region of the tropics, the resulting impact on the Asian summer monsoon has not been studied. Here we study the atmospheric response caused by the island surface change due to deforestation into cash-crop plantations and urban expansion. Using a large ensemble of atmospheric model experiments with observed and idealized land-cover-change specifications, we show that the deforestation warms the Malay Archipelago, caused by an increase in soil warming due to decreased evapotranspirative cooling. The island warming agrees well with in situ and satellite observations; it causes moisture to converge from the surrounding seas into Sumatra and Malaya, and updrafts, rainfall, and cyclonic circulations to spread northwestward into southern India and the Arabian Sea, as well as a drying anticyclonic circulation over the Indo-Gangetic plains, Indochina, and the South China Sea, weakening the Asian summer monsoon. The modeled monsoon weakening agrees well with, and tends to enhance, the observed long-term trend, suggesting the potential for continued weakening with protracted cash-crop plantation and urban expansion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3189-3205
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume32
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Atmosphere-land interaction
  • Atmospheric circulation
  • Climate variability
  • Land surface model
  • Monsoons
  • Vegetation

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