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More than carbon sequestration: Biophysical climate benefits of restored savanna woodlands.


ABSTRACT: Deforestation and climate change are interconnected and represent major environmental challenges. Here, we explore the capacity of regional-scale restoration of marginal agricultural lands to savanna woodlands in Australia to reduce warming and drying resulting from increased concentration of greenhouse gases. We show that restoration triggers a positive feedback loop between the land surface and the atmosphere, characterised by increased evaporative fraction, eddy dissipation and turbulent mixing in the boundary-layer resulting in enhanced cloud formation and precipitation over the restored regions. The increased evapotranspiration results from the capacity deep-rooted woody vegetation to access soil moisture. As a consequence, the increase in precipitation provides additional moisture to soil and trees, thus reinforcing the positive feedback loop. Restoration reduced the rate of warming and drying under the transient increase in the radiative forcing of greenhouse gas emissions (RCP8.5). At the continental scale, average summer warming for all land areas was reduced by 0.18?(o)C from 4.1?(o)C for the period 2056-2075 compared to 1986-2005. For the restored regions (representing 20% of Australia), the averaged surface temperature increase was 3.2?°C which is 0.82?°C cooler compared to agricultural landscapes. Further, there was reduction of 12% in the summer drying of the near-surface soil for the restored regions.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4931580 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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