Climate Impacts of Land-Use Change in China
At the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, concern focused on the global climate impacts of land-use changes such as deforestation. While the conference sought to establish regulations on emissions resulting from land-use changes only for rapidly growing countries, growth and urbanization in more developed nations also plays a role.
A 2009 study conducted by the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research and the China Meteorological Administration and published in Climate Dynamics, “Climate Impacts of Land-use Change in China and Its Uncertainty in a Global Model Simulation,” explores the climate impacts of land-use change in China.
The study’s findings include:
- Statistically significant local climate impacts in China, particularly in the south and southeast region, can be expected due to land-use changes.
- In winter, the model shows a 20% to 30% reduction of precipitation in the south and southeast region and a cooling of 0.5°C to 1.5°C. The cooling is attributed to an increase in surface albedo (solar radiation reflected from cleared land), while the rainfall reduction is associated with circulation changes from reduced surface roughness.
- In summer, it reveals more moderate impacts, with a 10% to 20% rainfall reduction and warming greater than 0.5°C in the south/southeast region. The warming is largely the result of reductions in surface water evaporation.
Although the model demonstrates a link between deforestation and climate impacts, the authors caution the study is not an attempt to explain observed climate change in the region.
Tags: global warming, land use
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
Read the Climate Dynamics study "Climate Impacts of Land-Use Change in China and Its Uncertainty in a Global Model Simulation."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related Science News article "Climate Meddling Dates Back 8,000 Years."
- If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.