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      Forests and climate change: forcings, feedbacks, and the climate benefits of forests.

      Science (New York, N.Y.)

      Tropical Climate, Trees, Temperature, Research, Greenhouse Effect, Ecosystem, Conservation of Natural Resources, Climate, Carbon, Atmosphere, Agriculture

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          Abstract

          The world's forests influence climate through physical, chemical, and biological processes that affect planetary energetics, the hydrologic cycle, and atmospheric composition. These complex and nonlinear forest-atmosphere interactions can dampen or amplify anthropogenic climate change. Tropical, temperate, and boreal reforestation and afforestation attenuate global warming through carbon sequestration. Biogeophysical feedbacks can enhance or diminish this negative climate forcing. Tropical forests mitigate warming through evaporative cooling, but the low albedo of boreal forests is a positive climate forcing. The evaporative effect of temperate forests is unclear. The net climate forcing from these and other processes is not known. Forests are under tremendous pressure from global change. Interdisciplinary science that integrates knowledge of the many interacting climate services of forests with the impacts of global change is necessary to identify and understand as yet unexplored feedbacks in the Earth system and the potential of forests to mitigate climate change.

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          Most cited references 9

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          Climate change, deforestation, and the fate of the Amazon.

          The forest biome of Amazonia is one of Earth's greatest biological treasures and a major component of the Earth system. This century, it faces the dual threats of deforestation and stress from climate change. Here, we summarize some of the latest findings and thinking on these threats, explore the consequences for the forest ecosystem and its human residents, and outline options for the future of Amazonia. We also discuss the implications of new proposals to finance preservation of Amazonian forests.
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            Forest response to elevated CO2 is conserved across a broad range of productivity.

            Climate change predictions derived from coupled carbon-climate models are highly dependent on assumptions about feedbacks between the biosphere and atmosphere. One critical feedback occurs if C uptake by the biosphere increases in response to the fossil-fuel driven increase in atmospheric [CO(2)] ("CO(2) fertilization"), thereby slowing the rate of increase in atmospheric [CO(2)]. Carbon exchanges between the terrestrial biosphere and atmosphere are often first represented in models as net primary productivity (NPP). However, the contribution of CO(2) fertilization to the future global C cycle has been uncertain, especially in forest ecosystems that dominate global NPP, and models that include a feedback between terrestrial biosphere metabolism and atmospheric [CO(2)] are poorly constrained by experimental evidence. We analyzed the response of NPP to elevated CO(2) ( approximately 550 ppm) in four free-air CO(2) enrichment experiments in forest stands. We show that the response of forest NPP to elevated [CO(2)] is highly conserved across a broad range of productivity, with a stimulation at the median of 23 +/- 2%. At low leaf area indices, a large portion of the response was attributable to increased light absorption, but as leaf area indices increased, the response to elevated [CO(2)] was wholly caused by increased light-use efficiency. The surprising consistency of response across diverse sites provides a benchmark to evaluate predictions of ecosystem and global models and allows us now to focus on unresolved questions about carbon partitioning and retention, and spatial variation in NPP response caused by availability of other growth limiting resources.
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              The importance of land-cover change in simulating future climates.

              Adding the effects of changes in land cover to the A2 and B1 transient climate simulations described in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leads to significantly different regional climates in 2100 as compared with climates resulting from atmospheric SRES forcings alone. Agricultural expansion in the A2 scenario results in significant additional warming over the Amazon and cooling of the upper air column and nearby oceans. These and other influences on the Hadley and monsoon circulations affect extratropical climates. Agricultural expansion in the mid-latitudes produces cooling and decreases in the mean daily temperature range over many areas. The A2 scenario results in more significant change, often of opposite sign, than does the B1 scenario.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                10.1126/science.1155121
                18556546

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