Articles | Volume 10, issue 2
Clim. Past, 10, 661–680, 2014
Clim. Past, 10, 661–680, 2014
Research article
28 Mar 2014
Research article | 28 Mar 2014

Regional climate model simulations for Europe at 6 and 0.2 k BP: sensitivity to changes in anthropogenic deforestation

G. Strandberg1,2, E. Kjellström1,2, A. Poska3,5, S. Wagner4, M.-J. Gaillard5, A.-K. Trondman5, A. Mauri6, B. A. S. Davis6, J. O. Kaplan6, H. J. B. Birks7,8,9,22,23, A. E. Bjune10, R. Fyfe11, T. Giesecke12, L. Kalnina13, M. Kangur14, W. O. van der Knaap15, U. Kokfelt3,5,16, P. Kuneš17, M. Lata\l owa18, L. Marquer5, F. Mazier3,19, A. B. Nielsen5,20, B. Smith3, H. Seppä21, and S. Sugita14 G. Strandberg et al.
  • 1Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrköping, Sweden
  • 2Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Department of Earth and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  • 4Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Geesthacht, Germany
  • 5Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden
  • 6Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 7Department of Biology and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 8Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London, London, UK
  • 9School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • 10Uni Climate, Uni Research AS and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 11School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK
  • 12Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics, Albrecht-von-Haller Institute for Plant Sciences, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • 13Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
  • 14Institute of Ecology, Tallin University, Tallin, Estonia
  • 15Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 16Center for Permafrost, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 17Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 18Laboratory of Palaeoecology and Archaeobotany, Department of Plant Ecology, University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland
  • 19GEODE, UMR 5602, University of Toulouse, Toulouse, France
  • 20Department of Geology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  • 21Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 22Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London, London, UK
  • 23School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Abstract. This study aims to evaluate the direct effects of anthropogenic deforestation on simulated climate at two contrasting periods in the Holocene, ~6 and ~0.2 k BP in Europe. We apply We apply the Rossby Centre regional climate model RCA3, a regional climate model with 50 km spatial resolution, for both time periods, considering three alternative descriptions of the past vegetation: (i) potential natural vegetation (V) simulated by the dynamic vegetation model LPJ-GUESS, (ii) potential vegetation with anthropogenic land use (deforestation) from the HYDE3.1 (History Database of the Global Environment) scenario (V + H3.1), and (iii) potential vegetation with anthropogenic land use from the KK10 scenario (V + KK10). The climate model results show that the simulated effects of deforestation depend on both local/regional climate and vegetation characteristics. At ~6 k BP the extent of simulated deforestation in Europe is generally small, but there are areas where deforestation is large enough to produce significant differences in summer temperatures of 0.5–1 °C. At ~0.2 k BP, extensive deforestation, particularly according to the KK10 model, leads to significant temperature differences in large parts of Europe in both winter and summer. In winter, deforestation leads to lower temperatures because of the differences in albedo between forested and unforested areas, particularly in the snow-covered regions. In summer, deforestation leads to higher temperatures in central and eastern Europe because evapotranspiration from unforested areas is lower than from forests. Summer evaporation is already limited in the southernmost parts of Europe under potential vegetation conditions and, therefore, cannot become much lower. Accordingly, the albedo effect dominates in southern Europe also in summer, which implies that deforestation causes a decrease in temperatures. Differences in summer temperature due to deforestation range from −1 °C in south-western Europe to +1 °C in eastern Europe. The choice of anthropogenic land-cover scenario has a significant influence on the simulated climate, but uncertainties in palaeoclimate proxy data for the two time periods do not allow for a definitive discrimination among climate model results.