Our new paper “Evaluating the climate effects reforestation in New England, USA, using a Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model Multi-Physics Ensemble” is now available as an early online release officially published at Journal of Climate (UNH Press Release).


Winter logging scene with cabin, c. 1900. Image courtesy of North Country Forestry Lantern Slides collection at UNH Library.

We used a WRF multi-physics ensemble to evaluate the impact of New England reforestation on surface climate.  We found that the regrowth of forests in pastures and fields led to daytime warming of +0.5C to +3.0C.  Greater daytime warming occurred during cold, snowy winters due an increase in albedo over snow-covered fields.  At night, temperatures warmed in areas reforested with deciduous broadleaf forest but cooled in areas with evergreen needleleaf forest.  The difference in nighttime temperature responses was linked to changes in ground heat flux.  This paper contributes to a better understanding of how historical land cover changes have influenced long-term winter warming trends in New England.

While this study focused primarily on the influence of albedo, we know that other surface properties such as the Bowen ratio and canopy roughness also play a role explaining the difference in surface climate between forested and deforested lands.  I have a paper in prep that will be exploring the relative contributions of albedo, Bowen ratio, and canopy roughness, so stay tuned!


Snowy canopy in Durham, NH.  Photo by Liz Burakowski, 2013.