Thanks to Timo HÃ¤meranta, several new papers on the important role of land surface processes in the climate system are listed below. These are
1) Kleidon, Axel, 2006. The climate sensitivity to human appropriation of vegetation productivity and its thermodynamic characterization. Global and Planetary Change, in press, corrected proof available online 26 July 2006. The abstract reads,
” Humans appropriate terrestrial productivity to meet their food supply, their primary source of free energy. Removal of productivity from terrestrial vegetation has its direct impacts in that less energy is available for vegetation growth. Since vegetation strongly shapes the physical exchange of energy, water and momentum at the land surface, a lower ability for vegetation growth should affect this surface exchange, the overlying atmosphere, and therefore climate. Here I attempt to quantify the climate sensitivity to different intensities of human appropriation of vegetation productivity. I use sensitivity simulations with a coupled dynamic vegetationâclimate system model of intermediate complexity in which I artificially remove different fractions of the simulated net primary productivity to implement human appropriation, thus reducing vegetation growth in the model. The simulations show noticeable differences in the surface energy- and water balance, with a consistent reduction in the amount of absorbed solar radiation and latent heat flux of up to 10 W mâ 2 and 27 W mâ 2 respectively and a reduction in continental precipitation by up to 30% in the global land mean when compared to the âControlâ? climate. However, the study also shows that mean land surface temperature is insensitive at the global scale despite pronounced regional patterns and is therefore not well suited to characterize the climatic sensitivity to land cover change at the global scale. I motivate the use of entropy production to characterize climate sensitivity. Entropy production is a thermodynamic measure of the strength of dissipative processes which perform physical work. With this measure, I show that the climate sensitivity is reflected as a clear trend towards less entropy production over land with increased intensity of human appropriation of NPP in general, and less entropy production by biotic activity in particular. I conclude that large-scale land cover changes are likely to lead to a noticeably different climate which is less favorable to biotic productivity and that this climate sensitivity is well captured by differences in entropy production as a meaningful, thermodynamic measure. “
An important conclusion of this paper, which has also been one of the conclusions of Climate Science (e.g. see), is that
“However, the study also shows that mean land surface temperature is insensitive at the global scale despite pronounced regional patterns and is therefore not well suited to characterize the climatic sensitivity to land cover change at the global scale.”
2) Mahmood, Rezaul, Stuart A. Foster, Travis Keeling, Kenneth G. Hubbard,
Christy Carlson, and Ronnie Leeper, 2006. Impacts of irrigation on 20th century temperature in the northern Great Plains. Global and Planetary Change, in press, corrected proof available online 28 July 2006. The abstract of this paper reads,
“Land use change can modify root zone moisture distribution, energy partitioning and subsequently, near surface energy balance. Various modeling studies provided evidence of these changes. For example, land use change from natural grass land to irrigated land use would significantly increase and decrease latent and sensible energy flux, respectively. This type of long-term modification of energy balance would in turn change near surface temperatures. The Great Plains of North America experienced significant overturning of land from natural grass land to irrigated land use during the 20th century. This study provides assessment on the changes in the historical near surface temperature records in Nebraska, USA. Long-term mean monthly maximum, minimum, and monthly mean air temperature data from 5 irrigated and 5 non-irrigated sites were analyzed. Length and homogeneity of time series and stability of stations were primary determinants in selection of these stations. The time series include Cooperative Weather Observation Network (COOP) and Historical Climate Network (HCN) data sets. Pairwise comparisons of temperatures between irrigated and non-irrigated locations for pre- and post-1945, -1950, and -1955 periods were completed for both data sets. These breakdowns of time series helped to identify periods of widespread land use change. Results show notably cooler temperatures over irrigated areas. For example, mean maximum growing season temperature at irrigated Alliance was 0.64 Â°C and 1.65 Â°C cooler compared to non-irrigated Halsey during pre- and post-1945 period, respectively. Hence, there was a 1.01 Â°C cooling during post-1945 years. Moreover, there has been a greater cooling during the second half of 20th century. The bootstrap re-sampling method was applied and trend analyses were completed for further verification of results. These assessments largely show a decreasing trend in mean maximum growing season temperatures over irrigated areas. To further verify the results and to determine the impacts of extreme values (including extremely cool temperatures), the 20% trimmed mean approach was applied. The impacts of extreme values have been minimal and based on the results obtained we conclude that land use change in the northern Great Plains has modified near surface temperature records. “
An important conclusion from this paper, that has also been concluded for a wide range of geographic regions on Climate Science (e.g.see), is that
“…….we conclude that land use change in the northern Great Plains has modified near surface temperature records.”
3) Ramankutty, Navin, Christine Delire, and Peter Snyder, 2006. Feedbacks between agriculture and climate: An illustration of the potential unintended consequences of human land use activities. Global and Planetary Change, in press, corrected proof available online 11 July 2006. The abstract reads,
“Agriculture has significantly transformed the face of the planet. In particular, croplands have replaced natural vegetation over large areas of the global land surface, covering around 18 million km2 of the land surface today. To grow crops, humans have taken advantage of the resource provided by climate â optimum temperature and precipitation. However, the clearing of land for establishing croplands might have resulted in an inadvertent change in the climate. This feedback might, in turn, have altered the suitability of land for growing crops. In this sensitivity study, we used a combination of land cover data sets, numerical models, and cropland suitability analysis, to estimate the degree to which the replacement of natural vegetation by croplands might have altered the land suitability for cultivation. We found that the global changes in cropland suitability are likely to have been fairly small, however large regional changes in cropland suitability might have occurred. Our theoretical study showed that major changes in suitability occurred in Canada, Eastern Europe, the Former Soviet Union, northern India, and China. Although the magnitude, sign, and spatial patterns of change indicated by this study may be an artifact of our particular model and experimental design, our study is illustrative of the potential inadvertent consequences of human activities on the land. Moreover, it offers a methodology for evaluating how climate changes due to human activities on the land may alter the multiple services offered by ecosystems to human beings. .”
Among the conclusions of this paper, is that their research methodology,
“….offers a methodology for evaluating how climate changes due to human activities on the land may alter the multiple services offered by ecosystems to human beings.”
This perspective fits with the framework that has been advocated on Climate Science of seeking to assess the vulnerability of important societal resources to the spectrum of social and environmental risk, including inadvertent land use change effects on climate (e.g. see).
These three papers add to an already overwhelming conclusion of the first-order climate effect of human alteration of the landscape. The drafts of the current IPCC Report that I have seen, as well as the first CCSP Report (see), have failed so far to adequately consider the importance of this climate forcing.