Evaluating the influence of different vegetation biomes on the global climate

P. K. Snyder, C. Delire, J. A. Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


The participation of different vegetation types within the physical climate system is investigated using a coupled atmosphere-biosphere model, CCM3-IBIS. We analyze the effects that six different vegetation biomes (tropical, boreal, and temperate forests, savanna, grassland and steppe, and shrubland/tundra) have on the climate through their role in modulating the biophysical exchanges of energy, water, and momentum between the land-surface and the atmosphere. Using CCM3-IBIS we completely remove the vegetation cover of a particular biome and compare it to a control simulation where the biome is present, thereby isolating the climatic effects of each biome. Results from the tropical and boreal forest removal simulations are in agreement with previous studies while the other simulations provide new evidence as to their contribution in forcing the climate. Removal of the temperate forest vegetation exhibits behavior characteristic of both the tropical and boreal simulations with cooling during winter and spring due to an increase in the surface albedo and warming during the summer caused by a reduction in latent cooling. Removal of the savanna vegetation exhibits behavior much like the tropical forest simulation while removal of the grassland and steppe vegetation has the largest effect over the central United States with warming and drying of the atmosphere in summer. The largest climatic effect of shrubland and tundra vegetation removal occurs in DJF in Australia and central Siberia and is due to reduced latent cooling and enhanced cold air advection, respectively. Our results show that removal of the boreal forest yields the largest temperature signal globally when either including or excluding the areas of forest removal. Globally, precipitation is most affected by removal of the savanna vegetation when including the areas of vegetation removal, while removal of the tropical forest most influences the global precipitation excluding the areas of vegetation removal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-302
Number of pages24
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004


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