Contrasting impacts of forests on cloud cover based on satellite observations

Ru Xu, Yan Li, Adriaan J. Teuling, Lei Zhao, Dominick V. Spracklen, Luis Garcia-Carreras, Ronny Meier, Liang Chen, Youtong Zheng, Huiqing Lin, Bojie Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forests play a pivotal role in regulating climate and sustaining the hydrological cycle. The biophysical impacts of forests on clouds, however, remain unclear. Here, we use satellite data to show that forests in different regions have opposite effects on summer cloud cover. We find enhanced clouds over most temperate and boreal forests but inhibited clouds over Amazon, Central Africa, and Southeast US. The spatial variation in the sign of cloud effects is driven by sensible heating, where cloud enhancement is more likely to occur over forests with larger sensible heat, and cloud inhibition over forests with smaller sensible heat. Ongoing forest cover loss has led to cloud increase over forest loss hotspots in the Amazon (+0.78%), Indonesia (+1.19%), and Southeast US (+ 0.09%), but cloud reduction in East Siberia (-0.20%) from 2002-2018. Our data-driven assessment improves mechanistic understanding of forest-cloud interactions, which remain uncertain in Earth system models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number670
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Contrasting impacts of forests on cloud cover based on satellite observations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this