Effects of regional afforestation on global climate

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Carbon (C) sequestration following afforestation is regarded as economically, politically, and technically feasible for fighting global warming, whereas the afforested area which will contribute more efficiently as sinks for CO2 is still uncertain. To compare the benefits for C sequestration combined with its biogeochemical effects, an earth system model of intermediate complexity, the McGill Paleoclimate Model-2 (MPM-2) is used to identify the biogeophysical effects of regional afforestation on shaping global climate. An increase in forest in China has led to a prominent global warming during summer around 45° N. Conversely, the forest expansion in the USA causes a noticeable increase in global mean annual temperature during winter. Afforestation in the USA and China brings about a decrease in annual mean meridional oceanic heat transport, while the afforestation in low latitudes of the southern hemisphere causes an increase. These local and global impacts suggest that regional tree plantations may produce a differential effect on the Earth's climate, and even exert an opposite effect on the annual mean meridional oceanic heat transport; they imply that its spatial variation of biogeophysical feedbacks needs to be considered when evaluating the benefits of afforestation.

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