Modeling the impact of historical land cover change on Australia's regional climate



[1] The Australian landscape has been transformed extensively since European settlement. However, the potential impact of historical land cover change (LCC) on regional climate has been a secondary consideration in the climate change projections. In this study, we analyzed data from a pair of ensembles (10 members each) for the period 1951–2003 to quantify changes in regional climate by comparing results from pre-European and modern-day land cover characteristics. The results of the sensitivity simulations showed the following: a statistically significant warming of the surface temperature, especially for summer in eastern Australia (0.4–2°C) and southwest Western Australia (0.4–0.8°C); a statistically significant decrease in summer rainfall in southeast Australia; and increased surface temperature in eastern regions during the 2002/2003 El Niño drought event. The simulated magnitude and pattern of change indicates that LCC has potentially been an important contributing factor to the observed changes in regional climate of Australia.