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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 09 Oct 2018

Research article | 09 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript was accepted for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Different response of surface temperature and air temperature to deforestation in climate models

Johannes Winckler1,2,a, Christian H. Reick1, Sebastiaan Luyssaert3, Alessandro Cescatti4, Paul C. Stoy5, Quentin Lejeune6,b, Thomas Raddatz1, Andreas Chlond1, Marvin Heidkamp1,2, and Julia Pongratz1,c Johannes Winckler et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2International Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modeling, Hamburg, Germany
  • 3Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Science, 1081 HV, the Netherlands
  • 4European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra, Italy
  • 5Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA
  • 6Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH-Zürich, Switzerland
  • acurrent affiliation: Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • bcurrent affiliation: Climate Analytics, Berlin, Germany
  • ccurrent affiliation: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany

Abstract. Deforestation affects temperatures at the land surface and higher up in the atmosphere. Satellite-based observations typically register deforestation-induced changes in surface temperature, in-situ observations register changes in near-surface air temperature, and climate models simulate changes in both temperatures and the temperature of the lowest atmospheric layer. Yet a focused analysis of how these variables respond differently to deforestation is missing. Here, this is investigated by analyzing the biogeophysical temperature effects of large-scale deforestation in the climate model MPI-ESM, separately for local effects (which are only apparent at the location of deforestation) and nonlocal effects (which are also apparent elsewhere). While the nonlocal effects affect the temperature of the surface and lowest atmospheric layer equally, the local effects mainly affect the temperature of the surface. In agreement with observation-based studies, the local effects on surface and near-surface air temperature respond differently in the MPI-ESM, both concerning the magnitude of local temperature changes and the latitude at which the local deforestation effects turn from a cooling to a warming (at 45–55° N for surface temperature and around 35° N for near-surface air temperature). An inter-model comparison shows that in the northern mid latitudes, both for summer and winter, near-surface air temperature is affected by the 5local effects only about half as much compared to surface temperature. Thus, studies about the biogeophysical effects of deforestation must carefully choose which temperature they consider.

Johannes Winckler et al.
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Johannes Winckler et al.
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Short summary
For local living conditions, it matters whether deforestation influences the temperature of the surface, temperature at 2 m, or higher above in the atmosphere. Here, simulations with a climate model show that at a location of deforestation, surface temperature generally changes more strongly than atmospheric temperature. A comparison across climate models shows that both for summer and winter the surface temperature response exceeds the air temperature response locally by a factor of two.
For local living conditions, it matters whether deforestation influences the temperature of the...