Clouds and plant ecophysiology: missing links for understanding climate change impacts

Nicole M. Hughes, Adriana Sanchez, Z. Carter Berry, William K. Smith

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículo de revisiónrevisión exhaustiva


Observations and models indicate that human activity is altering cloud patterns on a global scale. Clouds impact incident visible and infrared radiation during both day and night, driving daily and seasonal variability in plant temperatures—a fundamental driver of all physiological processes. To understand the impacts of changing cloud patterns on essential plant-based processes such as carbon sequestration and food production, changes in local cloud regimes must be linked, via ecophysiology, with affected plant systems. This review provides a comprehensive treatment of cloud effects (apart from precipitation) on fundamental ecophysiological processes that serve as the basis of plant growth and reproduction. The radiative effects of major cloud types (cumulus, stratus, cirrus) are differentiated, as well as their relative impacts on plant microclimate and physiology. Cloud regimes of major climate zones (tropical, subtropical, temperate, polar) are superimposed over recent changes in cloud cover and primary productivity. The most robust trends in changing global cloud patterns include: (i) the tropical rain belt (comprised mostly of deep convective clouds) is narrowing, shifting latitudinally, and strengthening, corresponding with shorter but more intense rainy seasons, increased clouds and precipitation in some parts of the tropics, and decreases in others; (ii) tropical cyclones are increasing in intensity and migrating poleward; (iii) subtropical dry zones are expanding, resulting in fewer clouds and drier conditions at these latitudes; (iv) summer mid-latitude storm tracks are weakening and migrating poleward, and clouds in temperate regions are decreasing; and (v) clouds over the Arctic are increasing. A reduction in coastal fog and low clouds (including those associated with montane cloud forests) have also been observed, although these trends can be partially attributed to local patterns of deforestation, urbanization, and/or reductions in aerosols associated with clean air initiatives. We conclude by highlighting gaps in the cloud-ecophysiology literature in order to encourage future research in this under-studied area.

Idioma originalInglés estadounidense
Número de artículo1330561
PublicaciónFrontiers in Forests and Global Change
EstadoPublicada - 2024

Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus

  • Silvicultura
  • Cambio global y planetario
  • Ecología
  • Ciencias ambientales (miscelánea)
  • Conservación de la naturaleza y el paisaje


Profundice en los temas de investigación de 'Clouds and plant ecophysiology: missing links for understanding climate change impacts'. En conjunto forman una huella única.

Citar esto