Land management and land-cover change have impacts of similar magnitude on surface temperature

Sebastiaan Luyssaert, Mathilde Jammet, Paul C. Stoy, Stephan Estel, Julia Pongratz, Eric Ceschia, Galina Churkina, Axel Don, KarlHeinz Erb, Morgan Ferlicoq, Bert Gielen, Thomas Gruenwald, Richard A. Houghton, Katja Klumpp, Alexander Knohl, Thomas Kolb, Tobias Kuemmerle, Tuomas Laurila, Annalea Lohila, Denis LoustauMatthew J. McGrath, Patrick Meyfroidt, Eddy J. Moors, Kim Naudts, Kim Novick, Juliane Otto, Kim Pilegaard, Casimiro A. Pio, Serge Rambal, Corinna Rebmann, James Ryder, Andrew E. Suyker, Andrej Varlagin, Martin Wattenbach, A. Johannes Dolman

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Anthropogenic changes to land cover (LCC) remain common, but continuing land scarcity promotes the widespread intensification of land management changes (LMC) to better satisfy societal demand for food, fibre, fuel and shelter1. The biophysical effects of LCC on surface climate are largely understood2-5, particularly for the boreal6 and tropical zones7, but fewer studies have investigated the biophysical consequences of LMC; that is, anthropogenic modification without a change in land cover type. Harmonized analysis of ground measurements and remote sensing observations of both LCC and LMC revealed that, in the temperate zone, potential surface cooling from increased albedo is typically offset by warming from decreased sensible heat fluxes, with the net effect being a warming of the surface. Temperature changes from LMC and LCC were of the same magnitude, and averaged 2 K at the vegetation surface and were estimated at 1.7 K in the planetary boundary layer. Given the spatial extent of land management (42-58% of the land surface) this calls for increasing the efforts to integrate land management in Earth System Science to better take into account the human impact on the climate8.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)389-393
Publication statusPublished - 2014




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