Regional landscape futures to moderate projected climate change: a case study in the agro-pastoral transitional zone of North China

Qian Cao, Jianguo Wu, Deyong Yu, Renqing Wang, Jianmin Qiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Changes in land systems have been shown to affect regional climate, but minimal attention has been paid to landscape patterns as adaptation strategies to climate change. In this study, we introduce alternative futures analysis and coupled land-atmosphere modeling to investigate the effect of landscape patterns on moderating projected climate change in northern China. Three future landscape scenarios are developed, and their impacts on regional climate in the context of climate change are examined. A reference scenario, Business-as-Usual, follows recent landscape trajectory; the Conservation scenario puts greater emphasis on ecosystem protection and restoration to ultimately achieve sustained socioeconomic development; the Degradation scenario ignores current policy to allow broad cropland expansion. The landscape impacts on regional climate under two representative concentration pathways (RCPs) are substantial and dependent on background climate. The Conservation scenario shows considerable decreases in near-surface temperature and extensive increases in rainfall during summer as compared with Business-as-Usual under RCP8.5 (i.e., a high emissions scenario), thus representing a preferred landscape pattern for climate moderation. However, trade-offs between temperature reduction and rainfall enhancement exist under RCP4.5 (i.e., a low-to-moderate emissions scenario), which necessitates careful evaluation. Finally, the Degradation scenario leads to the highest temperature and lowest rainfall among the three alternative futures under both climate conditions. Our study underlines the importance of landscape design/planning as an effective way to moderate climate change, and provides useful scientific information for making land use policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Alternative futures analysis
  • Climate change scenarios
  • Landscape impacts on climate
  • Regional climate modeling
  • Semi-arid region

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change


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