The research results showed that forests and wetlands buffered thermal fluctuation better than non-forest areas
Chinese researchers have discovered that forests have stronger thermal buffer ability than non-forest areas such as grasslands, savannas, and croplands.
Both the mean temperature and fluctuation of the vegetation's surface are crucial for the local climate and thermal environment of plants and animals.
With the increase in intensity and frequency of extreme climate events, interactions between vegetation and local climate are gaining more and more attention, reports UNB.
There have been many studies focusing on patterns emerging from the mean canopy surface temperature of vegetation, while there has been insufficient systematic research into the thermal buffer ability of different vegetation types across global biomes.
The researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences cooperated with their research partners in developing a new method to measure the thermal buffer ability based on the rate of temperature increase, according to their recently published research article in the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.
They compared the thermal buffer ability of 10 vegetation types with contrasting structures from grasslands to forests, using data from 133 sites globally.
The research results showed that forests and wetlands buffered thermal fluctuation better than non-forest areas.
At high latitudes, seriously disturbed and young planted forests displayed a greatly reduced thermal buffer ability as low as that of non-forests, said the article.
The researchers also found that canopy height was a primary controller of the thermal buffer ability of forests, while that of grasslands and savannas were mainly determined by energy partition, water availability, and carbon sequestration rates.
The research suggested that both mean values and fluctuations in canopy surface temperature should be considered when predicting the risk for plants under extreme events.
Although mature forests have a certain warming effect at high latitudes, they are still important for mitigating thermal fluctuation caused by extreme weather events.