Global climate forcing from albedo change caused by large-scale deforestation and reforestation: Quantification and attribution of geographic variation
Large-scale deforestation and reforestation have contributed substantially to historical and contemporary global climate change in part through albedo-induced radiative forcing, with meaningful implications for forest management aiming to mitigate climate change. Associated warming or cooling varies widely across the globe due to a range of factors including forest type, snow cover, and insolation, but resulting geographic variation remains poorly described and has been largely based on model assessments. This study provides an observation-based approach to quantify local and global radiative forcings from large-scale deforestation and reforestation and further examines mechanisms that result in the spatial heterogeneity of radiative forcing. We incorporate a new spatially and temporally explicit land cover-specific albedo product derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer with a historical land use data set (Land Use Harmonization product). Spatial variation in radiative forcing was attributed to four mechanisms, including the change in snow-covered albedo, change in snow-free albedo, snow cover fraction, and incoming solar radiation. We find an albedo-only radiative forcing (RF) of -0.819 W m-2 if year 2000 forests were completely deforested and converted to croplands. Albedo RF from global reforestation of present-day croplands to recover year 1700 forests is estimated to be 0.161 W m-2. Snowcover fraction is identified as the primary factor in determining the spatial variation of radiative forcing in winter, while the magnitude of the change in snow-free albedo is the primary factor determining variations in summertime RF. Findings reinforce the notion that, for conifers at the snowier high latitudes, albedo RF diminishes the warming from forest loss and the cooling from forest gain more so than for other forest types, latitudes, and climate settings.
Jiao, Tong; Williams, Christopher A.; Ghimire, Bardan; Masek, Jeffrey; Gao, Feng; and Schaaf, Crystal, "Global climate forcing from albedo change caused by large-scale deforestation and reforestation: Quantification and attribution of geographic variation" (2017). Geography. 880.