Impacts Of Land Use/Cover Classification Accuracy On Regional Climate – Another Paper That Documents The Major Role Of The Land Surface Within The Climate System

Another paper has appeared which further demonstrates the first order role of land surface processes within the climate system (thanks to Dev Niyogi for letting us know of this paper; subscription required to obtain full paper). The paper is

Ge, J., J. Qi, B. M. Lofgren, N. Moore, N. Torbick, and J. M. Olson (2007), Impacts of land use/cover classification accuracy on regional climate simulations, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D05107, doi:10.1029/2006JD007404.

The abstract reads,

“Land use/cover change has been recognized as a key component in global change. Various land cover data sets, including historically reconstructed, recently observed, and future projected, have been used in numerous climate modeling studies at regional to global scales. However, little attention has been paid to the effect of land cover classification accuracy on climate simulations, though accuracy assessment has become a routine procedure in land cover production community. In this study, we analyzed the behavior of simulated precipitation in the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) over a range of simulated classification accuracies over a 3 month period. This study found that land cover accuracy under 80% had a strong effect on precipitation especially when the land surface had a greater control of the atmosphere. This effect became stronger as the accuracy decreased. As shown in three follow-on experiments, the effect was further influenced by model parameterizations such as convection schemes and interior nudging, which can mitigate the strength of surface boundary forcings. In reality, land cover accuracy rarely obtains the commonly recommended 85% target. Its effect on climate simulations should therefore be considered, especially when historically reconstructed and future projected land covers are employed.”

An excerpt from the paper reads,

“Human activities are transforming the surface of the Earth at an accelerated pace. Such disturbance of the land can affect local, regional, and global climate by changing the energy balance on the Earth’s surface and the chemical composition of the atmosphere [Chase et al., 1999; Houghton et al., 1999; Pielke, 2001]. Over the past decades, land use/cover has been widely recognized as a critical factor mediating socioeconomic, political and cultural behavior and global climate change [International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), 1990; Lambin et al., 1999; Watson et al., 2000]. Numerous attempts have been made to understand past climate changes and to project potential future climate changes by incorporating reconstructed historical land cover changes and projected possible future land cover changes into numerical simulations [Xue, 1997; Pielke et al., 1999; Chase et al., 2000; DeFries et al., 2002; Taylor et al., 2002]. Recent studies have suggested that land use/cover change is a first-order climate effect at the global scale [Feddema et al., 2005].”

The 2007 IPCC Statement for Policymakers clearly chose to minimize the important role of land surface processes as part of the human influence on the climate system.

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