13.04.2013: Changes in the management of existing agricultural land can warm the local climate to an extent similar to that resulting from the conversion of natural vegetation to farmland. Alongside greenhouse gas emissions the changes of the energy balance due to alteration of the aerth surface of is one of the key anthropogenic drivers in global climate changes.
In the advance online publication of Nature Climate change, an international group od geoscientists colleagues presents a study that combined satellite observatios with ground measurements from temperate regions of North America and Eurasia. Geo ecologist Martin Wattenbach of the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ who was part of the team designed the study and selected the agricultural sites. “We compared the direct climatic effects of changes in land cover and land management practice in order to understand the scale of the effects”, Wattenbach notes. “Our results show that in particular agricultural land use changes the energy budget of the earth surface to such a degree that it presents itself as a main driver in regional climate change.“
For Eurasia as well as for North America variations in land usage resulted in a localized warming of around 1.7 degrees Celsius as a net effect when all cooling and heating influences were accounted for. With a growth of the global population to nine billion humans by 2050, the future management has to consider an altered energy balance alongside the greenhouse gas emissions due to an intensified agricultural production.
Sebastiaan Luyssaert et al., “Land management and land cover change have impacts of similar magnitude on surface temperature”, Nature Climate Change, AOP 13.04.2014, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2196