Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2014, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (5): 789-801.doi: 10.1007/s11442-014-1120-4

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Radiative forcing over China due to albedo change caused by land cover change during 1990-2010

Jun ZHAI1,2(), Jun ZHAI1,2, Ronggao LIU2,*(), Guosong ZHAO2, Lin HUANG2   

  1. 1. Environmental Satellite Center, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Beijing 100094, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2014-03-03 Accepted:2014-03-30 Online:2014-05-20 Published:2014-05-20
  • About author:

    Author: Zhai Jun (1985-), PhD, specialized in the study of quantitative remote sensing and climate change. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Key Program for Developing Basic Science, No.2010CB950902.Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.XDA05090303


Land cover change affects surface radiation budget and energy balance by changing surface albedo and further impacts the regional and global climate. In this article, high spatial and temporal resolution satellite products were used to analyze the driving mechanism for surface albedo change caused by land cover change during 1990-2010. In addition, the annual-scale radiative forcing caused by surface albedo changes in China’s 50 ecological regions were calculated to reveal the biophysical mechanisms of land cover change affecting climate change at regional scale. Our results showed that the national land cover changes were mainly caused by land reclamation, grassland desertification and urbanization in past 20 years, which were almost induced by anthropogenic activities. Grassland and forest area decreased by 0.60% and 0.11%, respectively. The area of urban and farmland increased by 0.60% and 0.19%, respectively. The mean radiative forcing caused by land cover changes during 1990-2010 was 0.062 W/m2 in China, indicating a warming climate effect. However, spatial heterogeneity of radiative forcing was huge among different ecological regions. Farmland conversing to urban construction land, the main type of land cover change for the urban and suburban agricultural ecological region in Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan region, caused an albedo reduction by 0.00456 and a maximum positive radiative forcing of 0.863 W/m2, which was presented as warming climate effects. Grassland and forest conversing to farmland, the main type of land cover change for the temperate humid agricultural and wetland ecological region in Sanjiang Plain, caused an albedo increase by 0.00152 and a maximum negative radiative forcing of 0.184 W/m2, implying cooling climate effects.

Key words: ecological region, land cover change, surface albedo, downward shortwave radiation, surface radiative forcing, China