Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. sends word of this new paper now in early release at the Journal of Climate. The paper suggests humans have strong impacts on the local climate, but not always through the pathways commonly touted as being the culprits.
Greenhouse gas policy influences climate via direct effects of land-use change
Proposed climate mitigation measures do not account for direct biophysical climate impacts of land-use change (LUC), nor do the stabilization targets modeled for the 5th Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). To examine the significance of such effects on global and regional patterns of climate change, a baseline and alternative scenario of future anthropogenic activity are simulated within the Integrated Earth System Model, which couples the Global Change Assessment Model, Global Land-use Model, and Community Earth System Model.
The alternative scenario has high biofuel utilization and approximately 50% less global forest cover compared to the baseline, standard RCP4.5 scenario. Both scenarios stabilize radiative forcing from atmospheric constituents at 4.5 W/m2 by 2100. Thus, differences between their climate predictions quantify the biophysical effects of LUC. Offline radiative transfer and land model simulations are also utilized to identify forcing and feedback mechanisms driving the coupled response.
Boreal deforestation is found to strongly influence climate due to increased albedo coupled with a regional-scale water vapor feedback. Globally, the alternative scenario yields a 21st century warming trend that is 0.5 °C cooler than baseline, driven by a 1 W/m2 mean decrease in radiative forcing that is distributed unevenly around the globe. Some regions are cooler in the alternative scenario than in 2005.
These results demonstrate that neither climate change nor actual radiative forcing are uniquely related to atmospheric forcing targets such as those found in the RCP’ s, but rather depend on particulars of the socioeconomic pathways followed to meet each target.