Surface cooling in temperate regions is a common biogeophysical response to historical Land-Use induced Land Cover Change (LULCC). The climate models involved in LUCID show, however, significant differences in the magnitude and the seasonal partitioning of the temperature change. The LULCC-induced cooling is directed by decreases in absorbed solar radiation, but its amplitude is 30 to 50% smaller than the one that would be expected from the sole radiative changes. This results from direct impacts on the total turbulent energy flux (related to changes in land-cover properties other than albedo, such as evapotranspiration efficiency or surface roughness) that decreases at all seasons, and thereby induces a relative warming in all models. The magnitude of those processes varies significantly from model to model, resulting on different climate responses to LULCC. To address this uncertainty, we analyzed the LULCC impacts on surface albedo, latent heat and total turbulent energy flux, using a multivariate statistical analysis to mimic the models' responses. The differences are explained by two major ‘features’ varying from one model to another: the land-cover distribution and the simulated sensitivity to LULCC. The latter explains more than half of the inter-model spread and resides in how the land-surface functioning is parameterized, in particular regarding the evapotranspiration partitioning within the different land-cover types, as well as the role of leaf area index in the flux calculations. This uncertainty has to be narrowed through a more rigorous evaluation of our land-surface models.
- climate system model