Clouds depend on water to form, organize, intensify and transform into other clouds. The roots of clouds are turbulent thermals that transport heat and moisture. Over land, this moisture content is strongly regulated by plants through photosynthesis and evaporation. This cloud-atmosphere-vegetation continuum – namely CloudRoots – connect clouds to the Earth’s surface where vegetation controls the partitioning of the available radiative energy into heat, water vapor and momentum. In turn, this available energy rely on the partitioning of radiation into direct and diffuse contributions largely controlled by clouds. This interactive circle is composed of a myriad of biological, chemical and physical processes acting at different spatial and temporal scales. Current weather and carbon-climate models struggle to effectively describe and link this cloud-atmosphere-surface system. The CloudRoots project intends to change this.

CloudRoots aspires to answer the following research questions:

  • Can we obtain a coherent understanding and representation of how the partitioning of surface fluxes interact with the radiative and turbulent fluxes perturbed by clouds at temporal scales ranging from minutes to seasons?
  • How will the cloud-atmosphere-vegetation interaction change in tropical, temperate and boreal ecosystems?
  • During the transition from current to future scenarios, how will the interaction change under climates driven by enhanced levels of greenhouse gases and increasing temperatures?

CloudRoots will investigate and quantify the links between photosynthesis, turbulence and clouds as a continuum: from the leaf to the cloud and from the cloud to the regional, covering all the relevant spatiotemporal scales.