The Influence of Vegetation on the Hydrologic Cycle in a Global Climate Model

  1. James E. Hansen and
  2. Taro Takahashi
  1. D. Rind

Published Online: 19 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM029p0073

Climate Processes and Climate Sensitivity

Climate Processes and Climate Sensitivity

How to Cite

Rind, D. (1984) The Influence of Vegetation on the Hydrologic Cycle in a Global Climate Model, in Climate Processes and Climate Sensitivity (eds J. E. Hansen and T. Takahashi), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM029p0073

Author Information

  1. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Institute for Space Studies, New York, N. Y. 10025

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1984

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875904047

Online ISBN: 9781118666036



  • Climatology—Congresses;
  • Geophysics—Congresses;
  • Ocean-atmosphere interaction—Congresses


The influence of plants on climate has many different aspects. Plants affect the surface albedo, the water holding capacity of the soil-vegetation system, the transport of water from deeper levels within the ground, the roughness of the surface, and the influence of snow cover on albedo. The first three of these characteristics are investigated in a global climate model (GCM) by removing each influence individually over all land grid points. Each experiment was run for two years and compared with a control run of five years. The results indicate that the effect on surface albedo and on water holding capacity are of similar magnitude in the model but maximize in somewhat different regions. The albedo effect is most important in areas with plentiful moisture associated with evaporation off ocean surfaces and in seasons when large-scale dynamics or convection controls rain production. The water holding capability influence dominates where local evaporation is essential for precipitation. The transport of moisture within the ground affects the phase of water loss in most areas. These experiments emphasize the importance of vegetation in the global climate system. They also indicate the importance of including full seasonal cycles in the estimation of climate change associated with vegetation removal.