Impacts of Land Cover Changes on Climate over China

Monday, 15 December 2014
Liang Chen, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, United States and Oliver W Frauenfeld, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States
Land cover changes can influence regional climate through modifying the surface energy balance and water fluxes, and can also affect climate at large scales via changes in atmospheric general circulation. With rapid population growth and economic development, China has experienced significant land cover changes, such as deforestation, grassland degradation, and farmland expansion. In this study, the Community Earth System Model (CESM) is used to investigate the climate impacts of anthropogenic land cover changes over China. To isolate the climatic effects of land cover change, we focus on the CAM and CLM models, with prescribed climatological sea surface temperature and sea ice cover. Two experiments were performed, one with current vegetation and the other with potential vegetation. Current vegetation conditions were derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite observations, and potential vegetation over China was obtained from Ramankutty and Foley’s global potential vegetation dataset. Impacts of land cover changes on surface air temperature and precipitation are assessed based on the difference of the two experiments. Results suggest that land cover changes have a cold-season cooling effect in a large region of China, but a warming effect in summer. These temperature changes can be reconciled with albedo forcing and evapotranspiration. Moreover, impacts on atmospheric circulation and the Asian Monsoon is also discussed.