China's rapid socioeconomic development during the past few decades has resulted in large-scale landscape changes across the country. However, the impacts of these land surface modifications on climate are yet to be adequately understood. Using a coupled process-based land-atmospheric model, therefore, we quantified the climatic effects of land cover and land management changes over mainland China from 2001 to 2010, via incorporation of real-time and high-quality satellite-derived landscape representation (i.e., vegetation fraction, leaf area index, and albedo) into numerical modeling. Our results show that differences in landscape patterns due to changes in land cover and land management have exerted a strong influence on summer climate in China. During 2001 and 2010, extensive cooling of up to 1.5 °C was found in the Loess Plateau and 1.0 °C in northeastern China. In contrast, regional-scale warming was detected in the Tibetan Plateau (0.3 °C), Yunnan province (0.4 °C), and rapidly expanding urban centers across China (as high as 2 °C). Summer precipitation decreased in the northeastern region, with patchy reduction generally < 1.8 mm/day, but increased in the Loess Plateau, with local spikes up to 2.4 mm/day. Our study highlights that human alterations of landscapes have had substantial impacts on summer climate over the entire mainland China, but these impacts varied greatly on the regional scale, including changes in opposite directions. Therefore, effective national-level policies and regional land management strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation should take explicit account of the spatial heterogeneity of landscape-climate interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-427
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Climate change
  • Land cover change
  • Land management change
  • Land surface biophysical property
  • WRF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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