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Climate Consequences of Land Management

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Session Description: 

Three quarters of ice-free land surface is managed for human use — cleared for agriculture, grazed on, or used for forestry. This land use has accounted for one third of historical anthropogenic CO2 emissions globally, but it also affects climate locally by changing water and energy fluxes. Depending on type of land use change and where it takes place, the effect may be a warming or a cooling contribution to overall global climate. Whether land use change has a warming or cooling contribution to global climate change is crucially important. An improved understanding of the interplay between land use and climate can transform our thinking about how land management can serve as a mitigation strategy to curb climate change. In particular, land use choices such as afforestation, bioenergy production, and other options will likely play a prominent role in preventing the global climate from surpassing the 2-degree target of warming. This talk will illustrate different perspectives on past and future land use, considering impacts of both carbon and biogeophysical variables at local and global scales.

About the speaker:
Julia Pongratz is Full Professor of Physical Geography and Land Use Systems at the University of Munich and a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany. Her studies of geography in Munich and at the University of Maryland naturally got her interested in the interaction of human activity and the natural spheres. During her PhD work (2006-2009), she investigated land use change as a climate driver throughout the last millennium at the University of Hamburg, work which won several awards. After a postdoc at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology in Stanford, looking into food security and geoengineering, she established a junior research group at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology on “Forest Management in the Earth System” in 2013. She contributed to the last and current assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Workshop Topic (s): 
  • Carbon Cycle
  • Climate Variability and Change (including Climate Modeling)
  • Ecosystems
  • Human Contributions & Responses
  • Land-Use/Land-Cover Change