Geophysical Research Letters

Impact of land cover change on surface climate: Relevance of the radiative forcing concept



[1] We use the IPSL climate model to investigate biophysical impacts of Anthropogenic Land Cover Change (ALCC) on surface climate. Including both the changes in surface albedo and evapotranspiration, we find that ALCC represents a radiative forcing of −0.29 W/m2 from 1860 to 1992 and of −0.7 W/m2 from 1992 to 2100. The simulated surface temperature response to ALCC indicates a historical cooling of 0.05 K and an additional cooling due to future changes of 0.14 K, which is consistent with the sign of the radiative forcing. However, this cooling is substantially lower than the one we would have obtained if it was caused by a radiatively equivalent change in CO2 concentration. These results thus question the relevance of the radiative forcing framework in the context of land use change, since the radiative forcing due to ALCC may not be comparable to the one exerted by other anthropogenic perturbations.