Biophysical impacts of Earth greening largely controlled by aerodynamic resistance

Chi Chen, Dan Li, Yue Li, Shilong Piao, Xuhui Wang, Maoyi Huang, Pierre Gentine, Ramakrishna R. Nemani, Ranga B. Myneni


Abstract: Satellite observations show widespread increasing trends of leaf area index (LAI), known as the Earth greening. However, the biophysical impacts of this greening on land surface temperature (LST) remain unclear. Here, we quantify the biophysical impacts of Earth greening on LST from 2000 to 2014 and disentangle the contributions of different factors using a physically based attribution model. We find that 93% of the global vegetated area shows negative sensitivity of LST to LAI increase at the annual scale, especially for semiarid woody vegetation. Further considering the LAI trends (P ≤ 0.1), 30% of the global vegetated area is cooled by these trends and 5% is warmed. Aerodynamic resistance is the dominant factor in controlling Earth greening’s biophysical impacts: The increase in LAI produces a decrease in aerodynamic resistance, thereby favoring increased turbulent heat transfer between the land and the atmosphere, especially latent heat flux.

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