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Regional feedbacks under changing climate and land-use conditions

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Author(s): L. Batlle Bayer | B. J. J. M. van den Hurk | B. J. Strengers | J. G. van Minnen

Journal: Earth System Dynamics Discussions
ISSN 2190-4995

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 201;
Date: 2012;
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ABSTRACT
Ecosystem responses to a changing climate and human-induced climate forcings (e.g. deforestation) might amplify (positive feedback) or dampen (negative feedback) the initial climate response. Feedbacks may include the biogeochemical (e.g. carbon cycle) and biogeophysical feedbacks (e.g. albedo and hydrological cycle). Here, we first review the most important feedbacks and put them into the context of a conceptual framework, including the major processes and interactions between terrestrial ecosystems and climate. We explore potential regional feedbacks in four hot spots with pronounced potential changes in land-use/management and local climate: sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Europe, the Amazon Basin and South and Southeast Asia. For each region, the relevant human-induced climate forcings and feedbacks were identified based on published literature. When evapotranspiration is limited by a soil water deficit, heat waves in Europe are amplified (positive soil moisture-temperature feedback). Drought events in the Amazon lead to further rainfall reduction when water recycling processes are affected (positive soil moisture-precipitation feedback). In SSA, the adoption of irrigation in the commonly rainfed systems can modulate the negative soil moisture-temperature feedback. In contrast, future water shortage in South and Southeast Asia can turn the negative soil moisture-temperature feedback into a positive one. Further research including advanced modeling strategies is needed to isolate the dominant processes affecting the strength and sign of the feedbacks. In addition, the socio-economic dimension needs to be considered in the ecosystems-climate system to include the essential role of human decisions on land-use and land-cover change (LULCC). In this context, enhanced integration between Earth System (ES) and Integrated Assessment (IA) modeling communities is strongly recommended.
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