The climatic impacts of land surface change and carbon management, and the implications for climate-change mitigation policy

Gregg Marland, Roger A. Pielke, Mike Apps, Roni Avissar, Richard A. Betts, Kenneth J. Davis, Peter C. Frumhoff, Stephen T. Jackson, Linda A. Joyce, Pekka Kauppi, John Katzenberger, Kenneth G. MacDicken, Ronald P. Neilson, John O. Niles, Dev dutta S. Niyogi, Richard J. Norby, Naomi Pena, Neil Sampson, Yongkang Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


Strategies to mitigate anthropogenic climate change recognize that carbon sequestration in the terrestrial biosphere can reduce the build-up of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere. However, climate mitigation policies do not generally incorporate the effects of these changes in the land surface on the surface albedo, the fluxes of sensible and latent heat to the atmosphere, and the distribution of energy within the climate system. Changes in these components of the surface energy budget can affect the local, regional, and global climate. Given the goal of mitigating climate change, it is important to consider all of the effects of changes in terrestrial vegetation and to work toward a better understanding of the full climate system. Acknowledging the importance of land surface change as a component of climate change makes it more challenging to create a system of credits and debits wherein emission or sequestration of carbon in the biosphere is equated with emission of carbon from fossil fuels. Recognition of the complexity of human-caused changes in climate does not, however, weaken the importance of actions that would seek to minimize our disturbance of the Earth's environmental system and that would reduce societal and ecological vulnerability to environmental change and variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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