In climate simulations we find a pronounced meridional (equator to pole) gradient of climate response to land cover change. Climate response approaches zero in the tropics, and increases towards the poles. The meridional gradient in climate response to land cover change results from damping feedbacks in the tropics, rather than from polar amplification. The main cause for the damping in the tropics is the decrease in cloud cover after deforestation, resulting in increased incoming radiation at the surface and a lower planetary albedo, both counteracting the increase in surface albedo with deforestation. In our simulations, deforestation was also associated with a decrease in sensible heat flux but not a clear signal in evaporation. Meridional differences in climate response have implications for attribution of observed climate change, as well as for climate change mitigation strategies.
- cover change