November 9, 2020 11:30 am - 12:20 pm
Quantifying the role that terrestrial ecosystems play in Earth's climate
Biologists have widely documented how the local environment influences plants. Recent findings suggest, surprisingly, that the reverse is also true: plant distribution and functioning control the local energy balance at Earth’s surface and directly modify regional and global scale climate. In this talk I will discuss how plants modify the climate system and its response to external forcing. We will investigate the sensitivity of the atmosphere to changes in plant cover, in particular the location of plant cover change. We will also explore the role that plant responses to a changing climate can further modify climate. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that ecosystems and climate must be considered together as a coupled system, particularly when assessing the response of the climate system to change.