Impacts of Land Cover Transitions on Surface Temperature in China Based on Satellite Observations (2018)

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China has experienced intense land use and land cover changes during the past several decades, which have exerted significant influences on climate change. Previous studies exploring related climatic effects have focused mainly on one or two specific land use changes, or have considered all land use and land cover change types together without distinguishing their individual impacts, and few have examined the physical processes of the mechanism through which land use changes affect surface temperature. However, in this study, we considered satellite-derived data of multiple land cover changes and transitions in China. The objective was to obtain observational evidence of the climatic effects of land cover transitions in China by exploring how they affect surface temperature and to what degree they influence it through the modification of biophysical processes, with an emphasis on changes in surface albedo and evapotranspiration (ET). To achieve this goal, we quantified the changes in albedo, ET, and surface temperature in the transition areas, examined their correlations with temperature change, and calculated the contributions of different land use transitions to surface temperature change via changes in albedo and ET. Results suggested that land cover transitions from cropland to urban land increased land surface temperature (LST) during both daytime and nighttime by 0.18 and 0.01 K, respectively. Conversely, the transition of forest to cropland tended to decrease surface temperature by 0.53 K during the day and by 0.07 K at night, mainly through changes in surface albedo. Decreases in both daytime and nighttime LST were observed over regions of grassland to forest transition, corresponding to average values of 0.44 and 0.20 K, respectively, predominantly controlled by changes in ET. These results highlight the necessity to consider the individual climatic effects of different land cover transitions or conversions in climate research studies. This short-term analysis of land cover transitions in China means our estimates should represent local temperature effects. Changes in ET and albedo explained <60% of the variation in LST change caused by land cover transitions; thus, additional factors that affect surface climate need consideration in future studies.
Year: 2018
Language: English
In: Environmental Research Letters, 13 (2): 024010-024010 p.

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 Record created 2018-09-21, last modified 2018-09-21