There is an important new paper that provides further peer reviewed evidence on the role of land surface processes in the climate system. It is
Eungul Lee, Thomas N. Chase,Balaji Rajagopalan, Roger G. Barry, Trent W. Biggs and Peter J. Lawrence: Effects of irrigation and vegetation activity on early Indian summer monsoon variability, 2008:Int. J. Climatol. (2008) Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/joc.1721
“We examined the effects of land cover change over the Indian subcontinent during pre-monsoon season (March, April, and May – MAM) on early Indian summer monsoon (ISM) rainfall using observed Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and July precipitation for the period of 1982-2003. MAM NDVI anomalies have increased in the Indian subcontinent and the increases are significantly correlated with increases in the irrigated area, not preceding rainfall. July rainfall significantly decreased in central and southern India, and the decrease is statistically related to the increase in the preceding MAM NDVI anomalies. Decreased July surface temperature in the Indian subcontinent (an expected result of increased evapotranspiration due to irrigation and increased vegetation) leads to a reduced land-sea thermal contrast, which is one of the factors driving the monsoon, and therefore weakens the monsoon circulation. A weak early ISM appears to be at least partially a result of irrigation and the resultant increased vegetation and crop activity prior to the monsoon.”
The numerous paper that continue to be published which document a regional and global effect of land use/land cover change on climate indicate that this aspect of the human role in climate variability and change needs to be elevated in its importance in future climate assessments. Unfortunately, this topic was minimized in its importance in the 2007 IPCC report.