January 13, 2023
Journal Article

Soil temperature mitigation due to vegetation biophysical feedbacks


Understanding the interactions between temperature regimes and vegetation cover is one of the key scientific topics in global environmental change and land surface process research. Recently, the prominent global greening trend has inspired considerable interest in examining climate feedbacks to vegetation changes. However, the impacts of recent widespread vegetation cover changes on soil temperature have been less documented and have received insufficient attention. Here, a high-resolution regional climate model was used to examine the potential impact of vegetation cover changes over the past 37 years, obtained as satellite observational data, on regional air and soil temperatures across the Heilong-Amur River Basin. Our sensitivity experiments indicated that the 1.85% increase in the regional fractional vegetation cover (FVC) from 1982 to 2018 cooled the air temperature by 0.045°C and the soil temperature by 0.19°C and that this cooling effect would continue in the near future, from 2016-2018 to 2051-2053. We found that soil temperatures were more sensitive to vegetation cover changes than air temperatures, particularly in mid-high latitude forest ecosystems; this finding helps to explain the nonsignificant decrease in soil temperatures in forest ecosystems over the past 40 years detected in the ERA5-Land reanalysis. Our results also suggest that vegetation restoration in forest ecosystems could mitigate the effects of climate change on permafrost environments by increasing the number of soil freezing days.

Published: January 13, 2023


Yu L., Y. Liu, K. Bu, W. Wang, and S. Zhang. 2022. Soil temperature mitigation due to vegetation biophysical feedbacks. Global and Planetary Change 218. PNNL-SA-163727. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2022.103971