21 Feb 2022
21 Feb 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

The biogeophysical effects of idealized land cover and land management changes in Earth System Models

Steven Johan De Hertog1, Felix Havermann2, Inne Vanderkelen1, Suqi Guo2, Fei Luo3,4, Iris Manola3, Dim Coumou3,4, Edouard Léopold Davin5,6, Gregory Duveiller7, Quentin Lejeune8, Julia Pongratz2,9, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner8, Sonia Isabelle Seneviratne6, and Wim Thiery1 Steven Johan De Hertog et al.
  • 1Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Department of Geography, Munich, Germany
  • 3Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Institute for Environmental studies, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 4Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, Netherlands
  • 5Universität Bern, Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Bern, Switzerland
  • 6ETH Zurich, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 7Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • 8Climate Analytics, Berlin, Germany
  • 9Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. Land cover and land management change (LCLMC) has been highlighted for its critical role in mitigation scenarios, both in terms of global mitigation and local adaptation. Yet, the climate effect of individual LCLMC options, their dependence on the background climate and the local vs. non-local responses are still poorly understood across different Earth System Models (ESMs). Here we simulate the climatic effects of LCLMC using three state-of-the-art ESMs, including the Community Earth System Model (CESM), the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology Earth System Model (MPI-ESM) and the European Consortium Earth System Model (EC-EARTH). We assess the LCLMC effects using four idealized experiments: (i) a fully afforested world, (ii) a world fully covered by cropland, (ii) a fully afforested world with extensive wood harvesting, and (iv) a full cropland world with extensive irrigation. In these idealized sensitivity experiments, performed under present-day climate conditions, the effects of the different LCLMC strategies represent an upper bound for the potential of global mitigation and local adaptation. To disentangle the local and non-local effects from the LCLMC, a checkerboard-like LCLMC perturbation, i.e., alternating grid boxes with and without LCLMC, is applied. The local effects of deforestation on surface temperature are largely consistent across the ESMs and the observations, with a cooling in boreal latitudes and a warming in the tropics. However, the energy balance components driving the change in surface temperature show less consistency across the ESMs and the observations. Additionally, some biases exist in specific ESMs, such as a strong albedo response in CESM mid-latitudes and a soil thawing driven warming in boreal latitudes in EC-EARTH. The non-local effects on surface temperature are broadly consistent across ESMs for afforestation, though larger model uncertainty exists for cropland expansion. Irrigation clearly induces a cooling effect, however; the ESMs disagree whether these are mainly local or non-local effects. Wood harvesting is found to have no discernible biogeophysical effects on climate. Our results overall underline the potential of ensemble simulations to inform decision making regarding future climate consequences of land-based mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Steven Johan De Hertog et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2022-5', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2022-5', Anonymous Referee #2, 28 Mar 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Steven De Hertog, 02 May 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Steven De Hertog, 02 May 2022
  • CC1: 'Comment on esd-2022-5', David Wårlind, 04 Apr 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Steven De Hertog, 02 May 2022

Steven Johan De Hertog et al.

Steven Johan De Hertog et al.


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Short summary
Land cover and land management changes are important strategies for future land based mitigation. We investigate the climate effects of cropland expansion, afforestation, irrigation, and wood harvesting using 3 earth system models. Our results show that these have important implications on surface temperature, both where the land cover/management change occurs and in remote areas. Idealized afforestation causes a global warming which might offset the cooling effect from enhanced carbon uptake.