On modeling the organization of landscapes and vegetation patterns controlled by solar radiation

Monday, 15 December 2014
Erkan Istanbulluoglu, Univ of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States and Omer Yetemen, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States
Solar radiation is a critical driver of ecohydrologic processes and vegetation dynamics. Patterns of runoff generation and vegetation dictate landscape geomorphic response. Distinct patterns in the organization of soil moisture, vegetation type, and landscape morphology have been documented in close relation to aspect in a range of climates. Within catchments, from north to south facing slopes, studies have shown ecotone shifts from forest to shrub species, and steep diffusion-dominated landforms to fluvial landforms. Over the long term differential evolution of ecohydrology and geomorphology leads to observed asymmetric structure in the planform of channel network and valley morphology. In this talk we present examples of coupled modeling of ecohydrology and geomorphology driven by solar radiation. In a cellular automata model of vegetation dynamics we will first show how plants organize in north and south facing slopes and how biodiversity changes with elevation. When vegetation-erosion feedbacks are coupled emergent properties of the coupled system are observed in the modeled elevation and vegetation fields. Integrating processes at a range of temporal and spatial scales, coupled models of ecohydrologic and geomorphic dynamics enable examination of global change impacts on landscapes and ecosystems.