We are actively working in Puerto Rico to understand how Hurricane Maria has altered the land-atmosphere coupling and what it means for the tropical Island’s climate. The Hurricane has felled several trees in different regions of the Island thus directly impacting the exchange of energy between the surface and the atmosphere. The picture below was composed using composite satellite images. The red regions show positive vegetation growth and the blue areas show the opposite. The El Junke rainforest has suffered severe damage, on the other hand the dry lands in the south west has witnessed an increase in vegetation. Additionally the coastline has also changed considerably.
We have also installed an energy balance station in Mayaguez in Western PR that is continuously monitoring surface energy fluxes. Additional experiments are planned for the Summer Months where the influence of land cover change on the convective system. The experiment and the set up are funded by the National Science Foundation and we collaborate with Scientists from University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez.