The relative importance among anthropogenic forcings of land use/land cover change in affecting temperature extremes

Liang Chen, Paul A. Dirmeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Land use/land cover change (LULCC) exerts significant influence on regional climate extremes, but its relative importance compared with other anthropogenic climate forcings has not been thoroughly investigated. This study compares land use forcing with other forcing agents in explaining the simulated historical temperature extreme changes since preindustrial times in the CESM-Last Millennium Ensemble (LME) project. CESM-LME suggests that the land use forcing has caused an overall cooling in both warm and cold extremes, and has significantly decreased diurnal temperature range (DTR). Due to the competing effects of the GHG and aerosol forcings, the spatial pattern of changes in 1850–2005 climatology of temperature extremes in CESM-LME can be largely explained by the land use forcing, especially for hot extremes and DTR. The dominance of land use forcing is particularly evident over Europe, eastern China, and the central and eastern US. Temporally, the land-use cooling is relatively stable throughout the historical period, while the warming of temperature extremes is mainly influenced by the enhanced GHG forcing, which has gradually dampened the local dominance of the land use effects. Results from the suite of CMIP5 experiments partially agree with the local dominance of the land use forcing in CESM-LME, but inter-model discrepancies exist in the distribution and sign of the LULCC-induced temperature changes. Our results underline the overall importance of LULCC in historical temperature extreme changes, implying land use forcing should be highlighted in future climate projections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2269-2285
Number of pages17
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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