The relative impact of regional scale land cover change and increasing CO2 over China

Mei Zhao*, Andrew J. Pitman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


A series of 17-yr equilibrium simulations using the NCAR CCM3 (T42 resolution) were performed to investigate the regional scale impacts of land cover change and increasing CO2 over China. Simulations with natural and current land cover at CO2 levels of 280, 355, 430, and 505 ppmv were conducted. Results show statistically significant changes in major climate fields (e.g. temperature and surface wind speed) on a 15-yr average following land cover change. We also found increases in the maximum temperature and in the diurnal temperature range due to land cover change. Increases in CO2 affect both the maximum and minimum temperature so that changes in the diurnal range axe small. Both land cover change and CO2 change also impact the frequency distribution of precipitation with increasing CO2 tending to lead to more intense precipitation and land cover change leading to less intense precipitation-indeed, the impact of land cover change typically had the opposite effect versus the impacts Of CO2- Our results provide support for the inclusion of future land cover change scenarios in long-term transitory climate modelling experiments of the 21st Century. Our results also support the inclusion of land surface models that can represent future land cover changes resulting from an ecological response to natural climate variability or increasing CO2. Overall, we show that land cover change can have a significant impact on the regional scale climate of China, and that regionally, this impact is of a similar magnitude to increases in CO2 of up to about 430 ppmv. This means that that the impact of land cover change must be accounted for in detection and attribution studies over China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-68
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


  • CO level
  • Intensity of precipitation
  • Land cover change
  • Return value
  • Surface air temperature


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