Influence of Amazonian deforestation on the future evolution of regional surface fluxes, circulation, surface temperature and precipitation
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseIn Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
The extent of the Amazon rainforest is projected to drastically decrease in future decades because of land-use changes. Previous climate modelling studies have found that the biogeophysical effects of future Amazonian deforestation will likely increase surface temperatures and reduce precipitation locally. However, the magnitude of these changes and the potential existence of tipping points in the underlying relationships is still highly uncertain. Using a regional climate model at a resolution of about 50 km over the South American continent, we perform four ERA-interim-driven simulations with prescribed land cover maps corresponding to present-day vegetation, two deforestation scenarios for the twenty-first century, and a totally-deforested Amazon case. In response to projected land cover changes for 2100, we find an annual mean surface temperature increase of 0.5 °C over the Amazonian region and an annual mean decrease in rainfall of 0.17 mm/day compared to present-day conditions. These estimates reach 0.8 °C and 0.22 mm/day in the total-deforestation case. We also compare our results to those from 28 previous (regional and global) climate modelling experiments. We show that the historical development of climate models did not modify the median estimate of the Amazonian climate sensitivity to deforestation, but led to a reduction of its uncertainty. Our results suggest that the biogeophysical effects of deforestation alone are unlikely to lead to a tipping point in the evolution of the regional climate under present-day climate conditions. However, the conducted synthesis of the literature reveals that this behaviour may be model-dependent, and the greenhouse gas-induced climate forcing and biogeochemical feedbacks should also be taken into account to fully assess the future climate of this region. Show more
Journal / seriesClimate Dynamics
Pages / Article No.
SubjectLand-use and land-cover changes; Amazonian deforestation; Tipping points; Twenty-first century
Organisational unit03778 - Seneviratne, Sonia / Seneviratne, Sonia
NotesIt was possible to publish this article open access thanks to a Swiss National Licence with the publisher.
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