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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Managing land to be cooler- including changing crops, moving to no till agriculture and lightening infrastructure – can reduce heat extremes by 2-3 degrees Celsius

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January 29, 2018 University of New South Wales read full ScienceDaily article here

New research shows how simple, proven land-based geo-engineering measures can reduce the hottest days by 2-3 degrees C. Lightening buildings, roads and infrastructure in densely populated areas and changing crop types and using no till agricultural practices over farmland can all take the edge off the hottest days as climate change raises extreme temperatures…
…Unlike many other climate-engineering methods proposed to tackle climate change, many of these regional modifications have already been tested and proven to work. Critically, this method has fewer risks compared with injecting aerosols into the atmosphere.“Extreme temperatures are where human and natural systems are most vulnerable. Changing the radiative properties of land helps address this issue with fewer side effects,” said Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, Prof Andy Pitman.”This research suggests that by taking a regional approach, at least in temperate zones, policy and investment decisions can be pragmatically and affordably focused on areas of greatest need…….The researchers gained their results by modelling how changing only the radiative properties of agricultural land and high population areas across North America, Europe and Asia would impact average temperatures, extreme temperatures and precipitation.The results showed small impacts on average temperatures, little change in precipitation — except in Asia — but significant reductions in extreme temperatures…..”We must remember land-based climate engineering is not a silver bullet, it is just one part of a possible climate solution, and it would have no effects on global mean warming or ocean acidification. There are still important moral, economic and practical imperatives to consider that mean mitigation and adaption should still remain at the forefront of our approach to dealing with global warming.”…

Sonia I. Seneviratne, Steven J. Phipps, Andrew J. Pitman, Annette L. Hirsch, Edouard L. Davin, Markus G. Donat, Martin Hirschi, Andrew Lenton, Micah Wilhelm, Ben Kravitz. Land radiative management as contributor to regional-scale climate adaptation and mitigation. Nature Geoscience, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-017-0057-5

ABSTRACT: Greenhouse gas emissions urgently need to be reduced. Even with a step up in mitigation, the goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 °C remains challenging. Consequences of missing these goals are substantial, especially on regional scales. Because progress in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions has been slow, climate engineering schemes are increasingly being discussed. But global schemes remain controversial and have important shortcomings. A reduction of global mean temperature through global-scale management of solar radiation could lead to strong regional disparities and affect rainfall patterns. On the other hand, active management of land radiative effects on a regional scale represents an alternative option of climate engineering that has been little discussed. Regional land radiative management could help to counteract warming, in particular hot extremes in densely populated and important agricultural regions. Regional land radiative management also raises some ethical issues, and its efficacy would be limited in time and space, depending on crop growing periods and constraints on agricultural management. But through its more regional focus and reliance on tested techniques, regional land radiative management avoids some of the main shortcomings associated with global radiation management. We argue that albedo-related climate benefits of land management should be considered more prominently when assessing regional-scale climate adaptation and mitigation as well as ecosystem services.

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