05 Dec 2022
05 Dec 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ESD.

The response of the regional longwave radiation balance and climate system in Europe to an idealized afforestation experiment

Marcus Breil1,2, Felix Krawczyk2, and Joaquim Pinto2 Marcus Breil et al.
  • 1Institute of Physics and Meteorology, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 2Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany

Abstract. Afforestation is an important mitigation strategy to climate change due to its carbon sequestration potential. Besides this positive biogeochemical effect on global CO2 concentrations, afforestation also affects the regional climate by changing the biogeophysical land surface characteristics. In this study, we investigate the effects of an idealized global CO2 reduction to pre-industrial conditions by a Europe-wide afforestation experiment on the regional longwave radiation balance, starting in the year 1986 from a continent entirely covered with grassland. Results show that the impact of biogeophysical processes on the surface temperatures is much stronger than of biogechemical processes. Furthermore, biogeophysically induced changes of the surface temperatures, atmospheric temperatures and moisture concentrations are as important for the regional greenhouse effect as the global CO2 reduction. While the greenhouse effect is strengthened in winter, it is weakened in summer. On annual total, a Europe-wide afforestation has a regional warming effect, despite reduced CO2 concentrations. Thus, even for an idealized reduction of the global CO2 concentrations to pre-industrial levels, the European climate response to afforestation would still be dominated by its biogeophysical effects.

Marcus Breil 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-2022-51', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Jan 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Marcus Breil, 31 Jan 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2022-51', Anonymous Referee #2, 10 Jan 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Marcus Breil, 31 Jan 2023

Marcus Breil et al.

Marcus Breil et al.


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Short summary
We can provide evidence that afforestation can have a negative impact on the regional greenhouse effect in Europe. By changing land surface characteristics, afforestation reduces vegetation surface temperatures, resulting in a reduced outgoing longwave radiation in summer. Thus, the greenhouse effect is increased seasonally, even though CO2 concentrations are reduced. Since forests additionally absorb a lot of solar radiation due to their dark surfaces, afforestation has a total warming effect.