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  • Abera, Temesgen; Heiskanen, Janne; Pellikka, Petri; Adhikari, Hari; Maeda, Eduardo (2020)
    Bushlands (Acacia-Commiphora) constitute the largest and one of the most threatened ecosystems in East Africa. Although several studies have investigated the climatic impacts of land changes on local and global climate, the main focus has been on forest loss and the impacts of bushland clearing thus remain poorly understood. Measuring the impacts of bushland loss on local climate is challenging given that changes often occur at fragmented and small patches. Here, we apply high-resolution satellite imagery and land surface flux modeling approaches to unveil the impacts of bushland clearing on surface biophysical properties and its associated effects on surface energy balance and land surface temperature. Our results show that bushland clearing leads to an average reduction in evapotranspiration of 0.4 mm day(-1). The changes in surface biophysical properties affected the surface energy balance components with different magnitude. The reduction in latent heat flux was stronger than other surface energy fluxes and resulted in an average net increase in daytime land surface temperature (LST) of up to 1.75 K. These results demonstrate the important impact of bushland-to-cropland conversion on the local climate, as they reveal increases in LST of a magnitude comparable to those caused by forest loss. This finding highlights the necessity of bushland conservation for regulating the land surface temperature in East Africa and, at the same time, warns of the climatic impacts of clearing bushlands for agriculture. (c) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.
  • Maeda, Eduardo; Abera, Temesgen; Siljander, Mika; Aragão, Luiz E. O. C.; Mendes de Moura, Yhasmin; Heiskanen, Janne (2021)
    In the Amazon rainforest, land use following deforestation is diverse and dynamic. Mounting evidence indicates that the climatic impacts of forest loss can also vary considerably, depending on specific features of the affected areas. The size of the deforested patches, for instance, was shown to modulate the characteristics of local climatic impacts. Nonetheless, the influence of different types of land use and management strategies on the magnitude of local climatic changes remains uncertain. Here, we evaluated the impacts of large-scale commodity farming and rural settlements on surface temperature, rainfall patterns, and energy fluxes. Our results reveal that changes in land-atmosphere coupling are induced not only by deforestation size but also, by land use type and management patterns inside the deforested areas. We provide evidence that, in comparison with rural settlements, deforestation caused by large-scale commodity agriculture is more likely to reduce convective rainfall and increase land surface temperature. We demonstrate that these differences are mainly caused by a more intensive management of the land, resulting in significantly lower vegetation cover throughout the year, which reduces latent heat flux. Our findings indicate an urgent need for alternative agricultural practices, as well as forest restoration, for maintaining ecosystem processes and mitigating change in the local climates across the Amazon basin.
  • Abera, Temesgen Alemayehu; Heiskanen, Janne Hermanni; Pellikka, Petri Kauko Emil; Maeda, Eduardo Eiji (2018)
    Climate–vegetation interaction can be perturbed by human activities through deforestation and natural extreme climatic events. These perturbations can affect the energy and water balance, exacerbating heat stress associated with droughts. Such phenomena are particularly relevant in the Horn of Africa, given its economic and social vulnerability to environmental changes. In this paper, we used 16-year time series (2001–2016) of remotely sensed environmental data with the objective of 1) clarifying how rainfall–vegetation interaction affects land surface temperature (LST) seasonality across the Horn of Africa, and 2) evaluating how this interaction affects LST anomalies during forest loss and drought events. Our results showed that vegetation seasonality follows rainfall modality patterns in 81% of the region. On the other hand, seasonality of daytime LST was negatively related to vegetation greenness patterns across ecoregions, and rainfall modality. LST varied more strongly in grasslands and shrublands than over other vegetation classes. Comparison of LST before and after forest loss in three selected areas (two in Ethiopia and one in Kenya) revealed an annual average increase in LST of 0.7 °C, 1.8 °C, and 0.2 °C after climate variability correction, respectively. The average increase in LST was relatively high and consistent during dry months (1.5 °C, 3 °C, and 0.6 °C). As expected, the rainfall anomalies during droughts (2010/2011, 2015, and 2016) were positively correlated with vegetation greenness anomalies. Nonetheless, the degree with which vegetation cover is affected by extreme rainfall events has a strong influence in regulating the impact of droughts on temperature anomalies. This highlights the importance of vegetation resilience and land cover management in regulating the impact of extreme events.