Changes in atmospheric vapor pressure deficit over the western United States under a changing climate

Hosts: Jiale Lou and Thomas Delworth

Atmospheric vapor pressure deficit (VPD), which represents the difference between saturated vapor pressure and actual vapor pressure, is closely linked to fire activity in the western United States (US). Higher atmospheric VPD, indicating drier air with greater moisture absorption capacity, accelerates water loss from soil and vegetation, exacerbating fire conditions. Understanding the fundamental changes in atmospheric VPD variability under a changing climate is crucial. In this project, the candidate will primarily use model outputs from different resolutions of GFDL’s cutting-edge SPEAR models (SPEAR-High, -Med, and -Low) to assess their impact on simulated VPD variability and examine long-term trends, seasonality,
fluctuations, and magnitudes of VPD changes and their potential connections with fire activity in the western US. The potential candidate is also encouraged to explore other fire-weather related quantities such as wind, soil moisture, temperature, and humidity, with details to be discussed and finalized in collaboration with both the candidate and mentor. The potential candidate should have interests in, climate science, computer science, physics, or math. Experience in processing large datasets and programming (e.g., R, NCL, MATLAB, etc.) would be useful.