Medvigy’s research focuses on understanding local-regional scale variability in climate and terrestrial biosphere, with a focus on the processes linking these two components of the Earth system. This research includes study of the relationships between the atmospheric circulation, terrestrial ecology, and biogeochemical fluxes, and how all of these are responding (and are projected to respond) to anthropogenic forcings. His lab addresses these issues through numerical models, including variable-resolution general circulation models, mesoscale meteorological models, and mechanistic models of ecosystem composition, structure, and functioning.
A specific area of research focuses on the climatic consequences of deforestation. Over the next 40 years, 40% of the Amazon rainforest is projected to become deforested. This has consequences for rainfall, temperature, regional winds, and ecosystem structure and functioning. In addition, these regional-scale changes may impact the large-scale Hadley and Walker circulations, and thus have global consequences. To complicate matters, the net response to deforestation may strongly depend on both the total area deforested and the spatial pattern of deforestation. Medvigy is currently using variable-resolution general circulation models to address these problems.
Another key area of research involves high-frequency climate variability. Daily fluctuations in sunshine, rainfall, and temperature are strongly coupled to ecosystem function, with effects that accumulate through annual and decadal time scales. Medvigy is currently seeking to elucidate the consequences of the projected changes in daily-scale variability over the next 100 years for terrestrial ecosystem structure, composition, and functioning.