Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-291
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-291

  18 Oct 2021

18 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Land-atmosphere interactions in sub-polar and alpine climates in the CORDEX FPS LUCAS models: Part II. The role of changing vegetation

Priscilla A. Mooney1, Diana Rechid2, Edouard L. Davin3, Eleni Katragkou4, Natalie de Noblet-Ducoudré5, Marcus Breil6, Rita M. Cardoso7, Anne Sophie Daloz8, Peter Hoffmann2, Daniela C. A. Lima7, Ronny Meier3, Pedro M. M. Soares7, Giannis Sofiadis4, Susanna Strada9, Gustav Strandberg10, Merja H. Toelle11, and Marianne T. Lund8 Priscilla A. Mooney et al.
  • 1NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 2Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS), Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Hamburg, Germany
  • 3Wyss Academy for Nature, Climate and Environmental Physics, Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 4Department of Meteorology and Climatology, School of Geology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • 5Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’environnement, Paris, France
  • 6Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 7Instituto Dom Luiz, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
  • 8CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, Norway
  • 9International Center for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy
  • 10Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrkoping, Sweden
  • 11Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel, Germany

Abstract. Land cover in sub-polar and alpine regions of northern and eastern Europe have already begun changing due to natural and anthropogenic changes such as afforestation. This will impact the regional climate and hydrology upon which societies in these regions are highly reliant. This study aims to identify the impacts of afforestation/reforestation (hereafter afforestation) on snow and the snow-albedo effect, and highlight potential improvements for future model development. The study uses an ensemble of nine regional climate models for two different idealised experiments covering a 30-year period; one experiment replaces most land cover in Europe with forest while the other experiment replaces all forested areas with grass. The ensemble consists of nine regional climate models composed of different combinations of five regional atmospheric models and six land surface models. Results show that afforestation reduces the snow-albedo sensitivity index and enhances snow melt. While the direction of change is robustly modelled, there is still uncertainty in the magnitude of change. Greatest differences between models emerge in the snowmelt season. One regional climate model uses different land surface models which shows consistent changes between the three simulations during the accumulation period but differs in the snowmelt season. Together these results point to the need for further model development in representing both grass-snow and forest-snow interactions during the snowmelt season. Pathways to accomplishing this include 1) a more sophisticated representation of forest structure, 2) kilometer scale simulations, and 3) more observational studies on vegetation-snow interactions in Northern Europe.

Priscilla A. Mooney et al.

Status: open (until 22 Dec 2021)

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Priscilla A. Mooney et al.

Priscilla A. Mooney et al.

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Short summary
We use multiple regional climate models to show that afforestation in sub-polar and alpine regions reduces the radiative impact of snow albedo on the atmosphere, reduces snow cover and delays the start of the snow melt season. This is important for local communities that are highly reliant on snowpack for water resources and winter tourism. However, models disagree on the amount of change particularly when snow is melting. This shows that more research is needed on snow-vegetation interactions.