Impacts of shifting phenology on boundary layer dynamics in North America in the CESM

Xiaolu Li, Toby Ault, Andrew D. Richardson, Carlos M. Carrillo, David M. Lawrence, Danica Lombardozzi, Steve Frolking, Dimitris A. Herrera, Minkyu Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Plant phenology modulates water and energy exchanges between the biosphere and the atmosphere and therefore influences planetary boundary layer (PBL) dynamics. Here we conduct a modeling experiment using the Community Earth System Model version 2, where plant phenology is prescribed based on satellite climatology in the control experiment. We then shift the timing of vegetation green-up and senescence in North America by one month earlier and later and investigate how shifting phenology could influence land-atmosphere interactions. Altering plant phenology modifies boundary layer fluxes through both direct influences on evapotranspiration and absorbed solar radiation and indirect effects through changes in low cloud fraction. The prescribed shift in phenology has significant but different influences on PBL dynamics and land-atmosphere coupling in the spring and fall in the Great Plains and Eastern United States. In the spring, earlier plant phenology significantly decreases PBL height in the Great Plains by more than 100 m. In the autumn, the Great Plains experience a significant increase in PBL height of over 100 m in the early fall while Eastern US exhibits a significant increase in the late fall when prescribed senescence is shifted earlier. As shifts in plant phenology alone can cause significant changes in PBL conditions at the seasonal timescale in the Great Plains and Eastern US, our experiments can help infer the potential location and magnitude of phenology-induced changes and provide useful information for observation-based analysis and model evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109286
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • Boundary layer
  • Community Earth System Model
  • Land-atmosphere coupling
  • Land-atmosphere interaction
  • Plant phenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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