Special Issue "Land Use Change Feedbacks with Climate"


A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Heiko Balzter
Holder of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award, Centre for Landscape and Climate Research, Department of Geography, University of Leicester, Bennett Building, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
Website: http://www.le.ac.uk/clcr
E-Mail: hb91@leicester.ac.uk
Phone: +44 116 252 3820
Fax: +44 116 252 3854
Interests: land cover / land use change; spatial-temporal scaling; land/atmosphere interactions; data assimilation; synthetic aperture radar (SAR); SAR interferometry; SAR polarimetry; ground-based, airborne and spaceborne light detection and ranging (LIDAR); digital elevation models; carbon accounting; forest structure and biomass mapping; vegetation phenology; fire and burned area mapping

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Land cover and land use influence the biogeochemical fluxes and the surface energy balance at the land/atmosphere boundary. Land use change can thus trigger biological, chemical, or physical feedbacks to the climate system via the atmosphere. In turn, climate change has begun to influence land use decisions as people are beginning to adapt to unavoidable global climate change in a warmer world with more weather extremes. Examples of such feedback processes are the urban heat island effect, the albedo feedback and the carbon cycle feedbacks. However, land use change is not only driven by climate change adaptation policies. It is influenced by a complex web of factors, including economic globalization, natural resource availability, commodity prices, regional infrastructure, social population demography and individual preferences, and government policies. Land is a limited resource and is becoming precious as the world’s population is growing. Multiple and often conflicting demands on land use mean that decisions have to be taken. The United Nations initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), for example, places a different demand on tropical forest land than the rising demand for biofuels and food products.
This Special Issue provides an interdisciplinary perspective on land use change at local, regional, national and global scales and how it feeds back to the climate system. It applies a range of modeling, remote sensing, socio-economic and other methods to the problem of human/environment interactions, driving land use change and its implications for future scenarios of climate change.

Prof. Dr. Heiko Balzter
Guest Editor


Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

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  • land use change
  • land cover change
  • climate change
  • land/atmosphere interactions
  • land surface modeling
  • biogeochemical cycles
  • remote sensing

Published Papers

No papers have been published in this special issue yet, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of Paper: Review
Title: Land Use Management: A Key Challenge to Climate Related Risk Reduction in Asia
Author: Rajib Shaw
Affiliation: Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan; Email: shaw.rajib.5u@kyoto-u.ac.jp
Abstract: Climate related hazards are increasing in frequency and severity, and its impacts are becoming more visible in recent years in Asia. The slow onset disasters like sea level rise and drought is also affecting both urban and rural areas. The impacts are not that visible, but in long run affect the lives and livelihoods of people and communities. On the other hand, due to increasing anthropogenic factors, people have started living in high hazard prone areas and becoming more exposed to the different types of hazards. In this paper, specific attention is given on the impacts of appropriate land use planning in risk reduction in both urban and rural areas in several Asian cities and coastal regions. The land use planning is not an isolated tool, it needs to be linked to other urban as well as regional governance issues. Thus, it is closely related to institutional dimension of the resilience indicators. The disaster resilient land use planning and management needs a balanced approach of implementation and monitoring of regulations, awareness raising of communities, and capacity building of professionals.

Type of Paper: Review
Title: Ecosystem Restoration as a Landscape-Scale Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Strategy
Author: Jaclyn Hatala
Affiliation: Ecosystem Science Division, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA; E-mail: jhatala@berkeley.edu
Abstract: Land-use change creates significant carbon-climate feedbacks between the biosphere and atmosphere, and the conversion of natural ecosystems to agriculture and other extractive uses has been a major contributor to the current atmospheric greenhouse gas burden. Previous studies have identified the potential for averting the release of greenhouse gases through policy incentives that preserve ecosystems and prevent land conversion to agriculture, particularly in developing nations. Less attention has been given to the potential for transitioning marginal and/or low-producing agricultural lands to ecosystems with higher carbon sequestration rates and lower greenhouse gas production through ecosystem restoration activities. The meta-analysis in this work evaluates landscape-scale greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4, and N2O) fluxes before, during, and after ecosystem restoration at boreal, temperate, and tropical sites around the world, and provides a scientific benchmark for understanding the potential of ecosystem restoration to increase landscape greenhouse gas sequestration. Although many studies demonstrate reduced greenhouse gas production and increased carbon sequestration following ecosystem restoration, this work also identifies key areas of future research that can further reduce the uncertainty surrounding these activities.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Influence of Changes in Forest Cover on Climate of Two Areas in Europe: A High-Resolution Modelling Experiment
Authors: Myriam Montesarchio 1, Monia Santini 2,*, Guido Rianna 1 and Paola Mercogliano 1
1Impacts on Ground and Coast (ISC) Division, Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Changes (CMCC), Lecce, Italy; E-mails: M.Montesarchio@cira.it (M.M.); g.rianna@cira.it (R.G.); p.mercogliano@cira.it (P.M.)
2Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC), Division of Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture, Forests and Natural Ecosystems (IAFENT), Viterbo, Italy; *E-mail: monia.santini@cmcc.it
Abstract: The aim of this study is investigating the possible influence of the forest cover change on the future climate at sub-regional scale. For this purpose, two sets of simulations are performed with the regional climate model COSMO-CLM at the high horizontal resolution of 3.8km, one on southern Italy and one on Romania. For each region of interest, the time periods investigated are 1971-2000 and 2015-2045: for the past time span, only the current forest cover is considered, whereas for the future period, also afforestation and deforestation scenarios are assumed besides considering stable the current forest cover. The mean and extreme values of surface air temperature and precipitation are examined. At first, a brief analysis of the differences induced by the climate change is performed; then, in order to assess the role of forest cover, a detailed analysis of the differences between the afforestation/deforestation simulation and the control one is carried out. Results show, in general, a decrease (increase) of the temperature and an increase (decrease) of the precipitation in the afforestation (deforestation) case, even though the local changes induced by a different forest cover can be estimated less relevant than those induced by the global climate change signal.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Exploring the Role of Spatial Targetting to Deliver Synergies between Climate Change Responses
Authors: Iain Brown * and Marie Castellazzi
Affiliation: James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK; *E-mail: Iain.Brown@hutton.ac.uk
Abstract: Land use patterns are the consequence of many inter-related and dynamic factors at multiple scales. Policy goals for climate change need to integrate with other land use priorities such as food security and provision of ecosystem services. This paper uses scenario analysis to explore how current land use patterns in Scotland may change through different future pathways based upon projections of climate change and socio-economic drivers. Firstly, the response to a changing climate is analysed through its implications for biophysical risks and opportunities based upon land capability concepts and the available choices for land use. Potential land use allocation is then assessed in terms of its implication for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other co-benefits in addition to its primary use. Current adaptive responses vary markedly between agriculture (mainly reactive) and forestry (often more anticipatory) and this acts to restrict synergies between land uses that could potentially deliver greater reduction in emissions. A more integrated climate adaptation/mitigation response that also managed potential land feedback mechanisms could be provided by improved spatial targetting of land use incentive schemes. Conclusions are drawn about the robust design of such schemes based upon the uncertainties inherent in the scenario analysis which suggest that a single land use optimisation goal is unviable.

Type of Paper: Review
Title: Modelling Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry in Climate Change: A Review of Major Approaches
Author: Melania Michetti
Affiliation: Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC), Viale Aldo Moro 44, I-40127 Bologna, Italy; E-mail: melania.michetti@cmcc.it
Abstract: The rapid development of climate policies and the need to understand the dynamics of climate change have highlighted and shaped the role of land use, land-use change and forestry dynamics (LULUCF), making it an issue of global importance. As a consequence, LULUCF has become a central topic in economic theory and in environmental sciences. The attention is focused on creating and expanding comprehensive global land-use datasets and on improving the modelling strategies allowing for an extensive representation of the land-use system. However, this is a relatively new research field and the development of this challenging process is likely to require greater effort in the years to come. By adopting a straightforward model classification, this paper provides a broad, but detailed, overview of the most representative methods and models developed to date. This summary will guide a critical discussion on relevant methodological aspects related to the global modelling of land use and its changes. An additional focus is placed on the representation of forest-carbon sequestration within climate mitigation, which represents one of the most demanding issues from a modelling perspective.

Type of Paper: Article
Title: Modelling of Future Land-Use Change Emissions Related to Climatic Reductions of Global Crop Yields
Author: Bojana Bajzelj 1 and Keith Richards 2
1 Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, UK; Email: bb415@cam.ac.uk;
2. Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK; Email: ksr10@cam.ac.uk
Abstract: Agricultural GHG emissions are a large contributor to global warming, while conversely climate change affects agricultural production. Total food production and preparation already generate about 30% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (15.3 ±6.9 PgCO2­e). A large proportion (4.0 PgCO2­e) of these is due to agriculture-related deforestation. Although total agricultural areal extent has stabilized in recent years, these land-use change emissions are still occurring as agriculture continues to expand in the tropics, although it is receding in some places in the Northern Hemisphere. Globally the demand for food is predicted to increase by 50-100% by 2050, and significant increases in the agricultural impacts on climate are therefore also likely to occur. This paper assesses what these might be for different food production and climate change scenarios. However, it has been shown that climate change is already negatively affecting the productivity of major crop systems, and this is expected to become more pronounced as climate change continues. In this paper we aim to explore how changes in crop yields due to climate change will affect the distribution and extent of the area used for cropping. These land use changes will therefore, through deforestation and afforestation, exacerbate or dampen global warming. In order to examine these effects, we construct a land-use model based on bio-physical processes, which forecasts land-use changes, emissions, fertilizer and irrigation uses based on regional food demands. It consists of a global land-suitability and land-use distribution analysis, coupled with a yield model that approximates crop yields from climatic and edaphic factors and a detailed biomass account that connects demand for food and other biomass products to harvests. Estimated greenhouse gas emissions include those associated with land-use change, as well as fertilizer production and use, rice paddies and livestock production, and the net change in potential for ecosystem carbon sequestration. Two further climate-associated developments in agriculture may be important for land and climate feedbacks and are also explored here. (I) Irrigation. Here we model how climate change is likely to increase the reliance of agriculture on irrigation. However, the scarcity of water will pose further limits to agricultural yields in some regions, requiring further land-use conversions to satisfy food demands. (II) Agriculture shifts. Here, climate change may improve the cropping suitability of some locations, while reducing it elsewhere. Therefore we can expect some additional land-use change emissions from agriculture following expansion of production into suitable areas, even if there is no change in net cropping area. Through exploring these developments we demonstrate how the effects of climate change on agriculture may in turn further impact on the climate through the agricultural expansion and land-use change necessary to meet future global food demand.

Last update: 9 December 2013

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