The influence of land-use change and landscape dynamics on the climate system: relevance to climate-change policy beyond the radiative effect of greenhouse gases

Roger A. Pielke, Gregg Marland, Richard A. Betts, Thomas N. Chase, Joseph L. Eastman, John O. Niles, Dev dutta S. Niyogi, Steven W. Running

Abstract

Our paper documents that land-use change impacts regional and global climate through the surface-energy budget, as well as through the carbon cycle. The surface-energy budget effects may be more important than the carbon-cycle effects. However, land-use impacts on climate cannot be adequately quantified with the usual metric of ‘global warming potential’.

A new metric is needed to quantify the human disturbance of the Earth's surface-energy budget. This ‘regional climate change potential’ could offer a new metric for developing a more inclusive climate protocol. This concept would also implicitly provide a mechanism to monitor potential local-scale environmental changes that could influence biodiversity.

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