Impact on short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) from a realistic land-use change scenario via changes in biogenic emissions
More than one quarter of natural forests have been cleared by humans to make way for other land-uses, with changes to forest cover projected to continue. The climate impact of land-use change (LUC) is dependent upon the relative strength of several biogeophysical and biogeochemical effects. In addition to affecting the surface albedo and exchanging carbon dioxide (CO2) and moisture with the atmosphere, vegetation emits biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), altering the formation of short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) including aerosol, ozone (O3) and methane (CH4). Once emitted, BVOCs are rapidly oxidised by O3, and the hydroxyl (OH) and nitrate (NO3) radicals. These oxidation reactions yield secondary organic products which are implicated in the formation and growth of aerosol particles and are estimated to have a negative radiative effect on the climate (i.e. a cooling). These reactions also deplete OH, increasing the atmospheric lifetime of CH4, and directly affect concentrations of O3; the latter two being greenhouse gases which impose a positive radiative effect (i.e. a warming) on the climate. Our previous work assessing idealised deforestation scenarios found a positive radiative effect due to changes in SLCFs; however, since the radiative effects associated with changes to SLCFs result from a combination of non-linear processes it may not be appropriate to scale radiative effects from complete deforestation scenarios according to the deforestation extent. Here we combine a land-surface model, a chemical transport model, a global aerosol model, and a radiative transfer model to assess the net radiative effect of changes in SLCFs due to historical LUC between the years 1850 and 2000.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Atmospheric chemistry in the Anthropocene