Forest loss in Brazil increases maximum temperatures within 50 km

Avery S. Cohn, Nishan Bhattarai, Jake Campolo, Octavia Crompton, David Dralle, John Duncan, Sally Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Forest cover loss in the tropics is well known to cause warming at deforested sites, with maximum temperatures being particularly sensitive. Forest loss causes warming by altering local energy balance and surface roughness, local changes that can propagate across a wide range of spatial scales. Consequently, temperature increases result from not only changes in forest cover at a site, but also by the aggregate effects of non-local forest loss. We explored such non-local warming within Brazil's Amazon and Cerrado biomes, the region with the world's single largest amount of forest loss since 2000. Two datasets, one consisting of in-situ air temperature observations and a second, larger dataset consisting of ATs derived from remotely-sensed observations of land surface temperature, were used to quantify changes in maximum temperature due to forest cover loss at varying length-scales. We considered undisturbed forest locations (1 km(2) in extent), and forest loss trends in annuli ('halos'), located 1-2 km, 2-4 km, 4-10 km and 10-50 km from these undisturbed sites. Our research finds significant and substantial non-local warming, suggesting that historical estimates of warming due to forest cover loss under-estimate warming or mis-attribute warming to local change, where non-local changes also influence the pattern of temperature warming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number084047
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2019


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