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Detecting the Atmospheric Response to the Changing Face of the Earth:
A Focus on Human-Caused Regional Climate Forcings,
Land-Cover/Land-Use Change, and Data Monitoring

An NSF Funded Workshop

August 27-29, 2007
Boulder, Colorado

Human activities have modified the environment for thousands of years. Significant population pressures, migration, and accelerated socio-economic activities have intensified these environmental changes over the last several centuries. The impacts of these changes have been highlighted in local, regional, and global trends in modern atmospheric temperature records and other relevant atmospheric indicators. One of the influences on temperature trends is extensive land-use/land-cover change and its forcing. Studies using both modeled and observed data have documented these impacts. Thus, it is essential that we detect these changes accurately to better understand the impacts on climate and provide improved prediction of future climate. The National Research Council (2005) also recommended the broadening of the climate change issue to include land use/land cover processes as an important climate forcing. Among the findings of this report state, "Regional variations in radiative forcing may have important regional and global climatic implications that are not resolved by the concept of global mean radiative forcing. Tropospheric aerosols and landscape changes have particularly heterogeneous forcings. To date, there have been only limited studies of regional radiative forcing and response. Indeed, it is not clear how best to diagnose a regional forcing and response in the observational record; regional forcings can lead to global climate responses, while global forcings can be associated with regional climate responses. Regional diabatic heating can also cause atmospheric teleconnections that influence regional climate thousands of kilometers away from the point of forcing. Improving societally relevant projections of regional climate impacts will require a better understanding of the magnitudes of regional forcings and the associated climate responses."

This workshop will build on the National Research Council and IGBP findings and recommendations. Based on the outcome of the workshop, a potentially new research program could be proposed. It has also been established in the literature that biases, inaccuracies, and non-precision have been introduced to the climate monitoring systems because of station moves, instrumentation changes, and changes in observation practices. Hence, we also need strategies that will help us to detect and overcome these biases and thus lead to improved understanding of land use forcing on climate.

Therefore, the objectives of this workshop are two-fold. First, the event will highlight the land-use/land-cover change (LULCC) factor and its impacts on climate. Participants will be invited to address both long-term systematic change (e.g., agricultural land-use change, deforestation) and short-term abrupt change (e.g., rapid small-scale urbanization). Second, the workshop will address issues associated with using the national data archive to monitor climate changes. Participants will present techniques for detecting observation bias and to quantify the uncertainty associated with associated adjustments. Examples of observation bias include, among others, exposure of instruments to a nearby concrete or asphalt parking area or misrepresentation of pre-dominant land use. Temperature is a key indicator of impacts of LULCC and hence this workshop will feature issues related to temperature observation and associated bias. However, biases associated with other variables will also be discussed.

To fulfill the goals we are convening a workshop at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) located in Boulder, CO from August 27 through 29, 2007. We expect a broad participation from the atmospheric science, climate, and ecology community including IPCC, IGBP, NCDC, NASA, NCAR, and other relevant labs. In addition, participants from other campaigns such as GEWEX will also be invited. The NSF will provide funding for the workshop. This funding will support graduate students and young scientists. Papers will be presented covering the most recent developments from relevant research and pending implications for climatic studies. 'Brainstorming' sessions will be organized and recommendations will be made at the end of these discussions. Papers presented in this workshop are expected to appear in a peer-reviewed Journal Issue.

For the most current information on this event, see the event site or contact:

Roger A. Pielke Sr. (
Rezaul Mahmood (
Ken Hubbard (

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