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Nat Commun. 2015 Mar 31;6:6603. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7603.

Local cooling and warming effects of forests based on satellite observations.

Li Y1,2,3,4, Zhao M5, Motesharrei S4,6,7, Mu Q5,8, Kalnay E2,4, Li S1,3.

Author information

1
College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
2
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.
3
Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of The Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
4
The Institute for Physical Science and Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.
5
Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.
6
Department of Physics, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, 20742, USA.
7
National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), Annapolis, Maryland 21401, USA.
8
Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812, USA.

Abstract

The biophysical effects of forests on climate have been extensively studied with climate models. However, models cannot accurately reproduce local climate effects due to their coarse spatial resolution and uncertainties, and field observations are valuable but often insufficient due to their limited coverage. Here we present new evidence acquired from global satellite data to analyse the biophysical effects of forests on local climate. Results show that tropical forests have a strong cooling effect throughout the year; temperate forests show moderate cooling in summer and moderate warming in winter with net cooling annually; and boreal forests have strong warming in winter and moderate cooling in summer with net warming annually. The spatiotemporal cooling or warming effects are mainly driven by the two competing biophysical effects, evapotranspiration and albedo, which in turn are strongly influenced by rainfall and snow. Implications of our satellite-based study could be useful for informing local forestry policies.

PMID:
25824529
PMCID:
PMC4389237
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms7603
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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