New simulations of 21st-century climate show that human-produced changes in land cover could produce additional warming in the Amazon region comparable to that caused by greenhouse gases, while counteracting greenhouse warming by 25% to 50% in some midlatitude areas. The simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) show the importance of including land cover in computer-model depictions of global change. The results will be published in the December 9 issue of Science.
Lead author Johannes Feddema (University of Kansas) carried out the modeling work with six coauthors from NCAR while on sabbatical at the center. The team linked NCARs Land Surface Model with the global-scale Parallel Climate Model, developed by scientists at NCAR and the U.S. Department of Energy under DOE sponsorship. This marks the first time a simulation of 21st-century warming includes not only interactive ocean and atmosphere components but also changes in land cover caused by agriculture, deforestation, and other human activities.
"The choices humans make about future land use could have a significant impact on regional and seasonal climates," says Feddema.
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