Thursday, March 24, 2016

Forest losses increase local temperatures

Public Release: 5-Feb-2016
Forest losses increase local temperatures
European Commission Joint Research Centre

An article by JRC scientists published today in Science, reveals that the biophysical effects of forest losses substantially affect the local climate by altering the average temperature and even more the maximum summer temperatures and the diurnal and annual variations. These effects are most obvious in arid zones, followed by temperate, tropical and boreal zones.

Forests affect climate in two ways: by absorbing carbon dioxide and storing large carbon pools in tree biomass and forest soils, and by modulating the biophysical surface properties and affecting the land-atmosphere fluxes of energy. This research focuses on the biophysical effects and is based on joint Earth observations of global changes in forest cover and of surface temperature performed during the decade 2003-2012.

Results show the key role of evapotranspiration (the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth's land surface to the atmosphere) on the biophysical impacts of forest on local climate. Forest clearing produces a marked increase of mean annual maximum air surface temperatures, slight changes in minimum temperatures and an overall increase of mean temperatures. But these effects vary according to the climate zone, with the arid areas showing the strongest effects, followed by the temperate, the tropical and the boreal zones.


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