Climate: Ground truths

    Geophys. Res. Lett. doi:10.1029/2009GL037666 (2009)

    Changes in land cover during the latter half of the twentieth century have affected the local climate and exacerbated droughts in eastern Australia. Replacing native vegetation with cropping or grazing lands can change how much sunlight is reflected and how much moisture evaporates, altering temperature and rainfall patterns.

    Clive McAlpine of the University of Queensland in Australia and his colleagues simulated the period from 1951 to 2003 on computer climate models — comparing actual land use change with a scenario in which land stayed in its late-eighteenth-century pre-European state. The results imply that clearing native vegetation has worsened droughts, even if climate change is factored out.

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    Climate: Ground truths. Nature 458, 1081 (2009).

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