Monica Allen Monday, October 23, 2017 / Categories: Research Headlines, Climate, Ecosystems, Weather , 2017 New research: Forests minimize severe heat waves Extensive, mature forest cover can mitigate the impact of severe heat waves, droughts and other weather extremes over large regions, according to new NOAA research published online in the journal Nature Communications. While this might seem intuitive, a new modeling study by a NOAA climate scientist and partners has quantified how historical conversion of native forests to cropland has influenced the frequency of hot and dry summers in the mid-latitudes of the United States and Europe. “We found that, all other things being equal, the conversion of forests to crops and pastures leads to a two-to-four fold increase in the occurrence of hot, dry summers in these altered regions,” said lead author Kirsten L. Findell, a climate scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). “Instead of hot and dry summers happening once a decade, these regions with forest converted to cropland experience hot-dry extremes every two to three years.” While the effect of the historical conversion of forests to cropland was clear in the scientific analysis for the mid-latitudes, it was less clear in the tropics, where the amount of cropland conversion is smaller and where large-scale oceanic variability plays a more significant role. Researchers compared recently available global land cover observations of temperature and humidity from satellites over 12 years with results from GFDL’s sophisticated, high-resolution Earth System Model and found that model results were consistent with observations. “Getting similar results from our model provides us with greater confidence that the model can be used to predict future impacts of forest conversion,” said Findell. Read the paper at Nature Communications. For more information, please contact Monica Allen, director of public affairs for NOAA Research, at 301-734-1123 or firstname.lastname@example.org Previous Article NOAA, NASA team up again to investigate the atmosphere over Antarctica Next Article Sea Grant announces 93 million for aquaculture research and industry support Print 11308 Tags: drought GFDL climate More links Nature CommunicationsThe impact of anthropogenic land use and landcover change on regional climate extremes Related articles New research finds the Western U.S. is a hot spot for "snow droughts" NOAA names University of Miami to host cooperative institute NOAA’s Climate Program Office launches Climate Risk Areas Initiative NOAA releases roadmap for the next 7 years of research and development NOAA collects a lot of data on the ocean. Here are 4 ways we use it.