Biogeophysical Effects of Land-Use and Land-Cover Change Not Detectable in Warmest Month

Les effets biogéophysiques des changements d'utilisation des terres et de couverture végétale ne sont pas détectables au cours du mois le plus chaud

Grant, Luke ; Gudmundsson, Lukas ; Davin, Edouard L. ; Lawrence, David M. ; Vuichard, Nicolas ; Robertson, Eddy ; Séférian, Roland ; Ribes, Aurélien ; Hirsch, Annette L. ; Thiery, Wim

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<p align=justify>Land-use and land-cover changes (hereafter simply "land use") alter climates biogeophysically by affecting surface fluxes of energy and water. Yet, near-surface temperature responses to land use across observational versus model-based studies and spatial-temporal scales can be inconsistent. Here we assess the prevalence of the historical land use signal of daily maximum temperatures averaged over the warmest month of the year (tLU) using regularized optimal fingerprinting for detection and attribution. We use observations from the Climatic Research Unit and Berkeley Earth alongside historical simulations with and without land use from phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project to reconstruct an experiment representing the effects of land use on climate. To assess the signal of land use at spatially resolved continental and global scales, we aggregate all input data across reference regions and continents, respectively. At both scales, land use does not comprise a significantly detectable set of forcings for two of four Earth system models and their multimodel mean. Furthermore, using a principal component analysis, we find that tLU is mostly composed of the nonlocal effects of land use rather than its local effects. These findings show that, at scales relevant for climate attribution, uncertainties in Earth system model representations of land use are too high relative to the effects of internal variability to confidently assess land use.</p>
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