Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UM Research Shows Up To Half Of Earth's Surface Warming Could Be The Result Of Changes In Land Use

Date:
May 30, 2003
Source:
University Of Maryland, College Park
Summary:
Land use changes in the United States are responsible for a significant portion of the country's temperature increase over the past five decades, says a University of Maryland study published in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Land use changes in the United States are responsible for a significant portion of the country's temperature increase over the past five decades, says a University of Maryland study published in this week's issue of the journal Nature. The findings suggest that land use changes are responsible for more of the rise in global temperatures than scientists previously had thought, say authors Eugenia Kalnay and Ming Cai, scientists in the university's department of meteorology.

Over the past century, the Earth has warmed by about 1 degree F (Fahrenheit) and scientists expect the average global temperature to increase an additional 2 to 6 degrees F over the next 100 years. These may seem like insignificant increases, but when small changes in the average temperature last for a long time, they can cause dramatic changes in the climate. At the peak of the last ice age, some 18,000 years ago, the average temperature was only 7 degrees F colder than today, and glaciers covered much of North America.

Most scientists think the global warming trend is largely the result of human activities, principally the emission of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and other sources. Land use change, such as the conversion of undeveloped land to housing or agricultural use, has been seen as an important but much smaller factor in this trend. However, the findings of Kalnay and Cai may force a reassessment of the relative importance of these two factors.

"Our estimates are that land use changes in the United States since the 1960s resulted in a rise of over 0.2 degrees F <> in the mean surface temperature, an estimate twice as high as those of previous studies," said Kalnay, a professor of meteorology. "We expect to extend our study to obtain global results later this year, but these findings for the United States already suggest that land use changes may account for between 1/3 and 1/2 of the observed surface global warming."

"The larger effect found in this study is likely because our method covers all changes in land use. Previous methods for estimating the impact of land use change relied on measures -- population counts or satellite measures of light at night -- that only provide an indication of the affects of urbanization, but not of other changes in land use," said Kalnay, who prior to coming to Maryland led the development of ensemble forecasts and other modeling improvements at the National Weather Service that made possible accurate 3 and 5 day forecasts.

Kalnay and Cai estimated the impact of land-use effects in the United States over the past 50 years by comparing trends in surface temperature measurements taken at almost 2000 surface weather stations around the country with those from a satellite-and-weather-balloon-based set of data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The University of Maryland is a recognized leader in global climate and land cover change research, led by the Joint Global Change Research Institute http://www.globalchange.umd.edu/index.html, the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center http://www.essic.umd.edu/Institute the Global Land Cover Facility http://esip.umiacs.umd.edu/index.shtml, and the departments of meteorology http://www.atmos.umd.edu/ and geography http://geog.umd.edu/.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Maryland, College Park. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Maryland, College Park. "UM Research Shows Up To Half Of Earth's Surface Warming Could Be The Result Of Changes In Land Use." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030530083231.htm>.
University Of Maryland, College Park. (2003, May 30). UM Research Shows Up To Half Of Earth's Surface Warming Could Be The Result Of Changes In Land Use. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030530083231.htm
University Of Maryland, College Park. "UM Research Shows Up To Half Of Earth's Surface Warming Could Be The Result Of Changes In Land Use." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030530083231.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins