The effect of land surface changes on Eemian climate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Transient experiments for the Eemian (128-113 ky BP) were performed with a complex, coupled earth system model, including atmosphere, ocean, terrestrial biosphere and marine biogeochemistry. In order to investigate the effect of land surface parameters (background albedo, vegetation and tree fraction and roughness length) on the simulated changes during the Eemian, simulations with interactive coupling between climate and vegetation were compared with additional experiments in which these feedbacks were suppressed. The experiments show that the influence of land surface on climate is mainly caused by changes in the albedo. For the northern hemisphere high latitudes, land surface albedo is changed partially due to the direct albedo effect of the conversion of grasses into forest, but the indirect effect of forests on snow albedo appears to be the major factor influencing the total absorption of solar radiation. The Western Sahara region experiences large changes in land surface albedo due to the appearance of vegetation between 128 and 120 ky BP. These local land surface albedo changes can be as much as 20%, thereby affecting the local as well as the global energy balance. On a global scale, latent heat loss over land increases more than 10% for 126 ky BP compared to present-day.


  • Guy Schurgers
  • Uwe Mikolajewicz
  • Matthias Gröger
  • Ernst Maier-Reimer
  • Miren Vizcaíno
  • Arne Winguth
External organisations
  • External Organization - Unknown
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-373
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes