Ecological climatology is an interdisciplinary framework to understand the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems in the climate system. It examines the physical, chemical, and biological processes by which landscapes affect and are affected by climate. The central theme is that terrestrial ecosystems, through their cycling of energy, water, chemical elements, and trace gases, are important determinants of climate. The coupling between climate and vegetation is seen at spatial scales from stomata to vegetation geography and at time scales of near instantaneous to millennia. In particular, natural vegetation dynamics and human land uses and land management are important mechanisms of climate change. The boreal forest-tundra ecotone and the North African Sahel are examples of climate-ecosystem dynamics at the biogeographical spatial and temporal scale. Deforestation, desertification of drylands, cultivation of grasslands, reforestation following farm abandonment, and urbanization are case studies of how human uses of land alter climate.
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Ecological climatology provides an interdisciplinary framework to understand the functioning of terrestrial landscapes in the climate system. It combines aspects of physical-climatology, micrometeorology, hydrology, soil science, plant physiology, biogeochemistry, biogeography, and vegetation dynamics to explain the physical, chemical and biological processes by which landscapes affect and are affected by climate.About the Author :
Gordon Bonan is a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and an adjoint associate professor in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado. His research interests include the ecological and hydrological processes by which land affects climate and how natural and human-induced changes in landscapes affect climate. Gordon is an editor for the Journal of Climate.
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