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When a Tree Falls

Release Date:
9/12/2012 9:00 PM

The Impact of Deforestation on Surface Climate across Latitudes

Xuhui Lee, deforestation, features Xuhui Lee


The Alvine Engineering Professional Effectiveness and Enrichment Program will present a lecture by Dr. Xuhui Lee, Ph.D., on the biogeochemical and biophysical effects of deforestation and tree planting on local and global climates. Land use activities influence the climate system by altering biogeochemical and biophysical processes. The biogeochemical effect arises from changes in concentrations of the greenhouse gases in response to changes in the terrestrial fluxes of these gases. It creates a radiative forcing on the global climate system but without a direct impact on the local climate. The biophysical effect includes changes in surface albedo, surface roughness and evaporation and is important to the climate system at both the global and the local scale. The global consequence of albedo change has been extensively studied with climate models. The albedo change, along with energy redistribution associated with changes in surface roughness and evaporation, also drives changes in the local climate, but the net effect of these factors is uncertain. In this study, we performed a “site-pair” analysis by comparing forest eddy covariance flux tower data with the data collected at a nearby weather station and using the latter as a proxy for cleared land. Results show that the effect of deforestation on local surface temperature is highly dependent on latitude.


Professor Lee’s research and teaching concern the interactions between the terrestrial biosphere, the atmosphere and anthropogenic drivers. His areas of interest include boundary-layer meteorology, air pollution meteorology, meteorological instrumentation, remote sensing, carbon cycle science and policy, and China's environmental management. One focus of his research activity is on greenhouse gas fluxes in the terrestrial environment, including forest, cropland and man-made reservoir. Other ongoing projects deal with isotopic tracers in the cycling of carbon dioxide and water vapor, farmland management for carbon sequestration in China, and biogeochemical and biophysical effects of land use on the climate system. He is Sara Shallenberger Professor of Meteorology, holds a guest professorship in the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is the editor-in-chief for the international journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.


Oct. 10, from 12:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.             


The Schumann Auditorium in the Tagliatela College of Engineering, Room B120, University of New Haven

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Contact Ismail Orabi at

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. UNH enrolls approximately 6,400, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.