Climate impacts of land-use change in China


April 27, 2011

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


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Citation: Zhang, Huqiang, et al. "Climate Impacts of Land-use Change in China and Its Uncertainty in a Global Model Simulation," Climate Dynamics, March, 2009, Vol. 32, Issue 4, 473-494. DOI: 10.1007/s00382-008-0388-4.