The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Paul Miller. Photo.

Paul Miller

Senior lecturer

Paul Miller. Photo.

Impacts of land use on climate and ecosystem productivity over the Amazon and the South American continent


  • Minchao Wu
  • Guy Schurgers
  • Anders Ahlström
  • Markku Rummukainen
  • Paul Miller
  • Benjamin Smith
  • Wilhelm May

Summary, in English

The Amazon basin is characterized by a strong interplay between the atmosphere and vegetation. Anthropogenic land use and land cover change (LULCC) affects vegetation and the exchange of energy and water with the atmosphere. Here we have assessed potential LULCC impacts on climate and natural vegetation dynamics over South America with a regional Earth system model that also accounts for vegetation dynamics. The biophysical and biogeochemical impacts from LULCC were addressed with two simulations over the CORDEX-South America domain. The results show that LULCC imposes local and remote influences on South American climate. These include significant local warming over the LULCC-affected area, changes in circulation patterns over the Amazon basin during the dry season, and an intensified hydrological cycle over much of the LULCC-affected area during the wet season. These changes affect the natural vegetation productivity which shows contrasting and significant changes between northwestern (around 10% increase) and southeastern (up to 10% decrease) parts of the Amazon basin caused by mesoscale circulation changes during the dry season, and increased productivity in parts of the LULCC-affected areas. We conclude that ongoing deforestation around the fringes of the Amazon could impact pristine forest by changing mesoscale circulation patterns, amplifying the degradation of natural vegetation caused by direct, local impacts of land use activities.


  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • MERGE: ModElling the Regional and Global Earth system

Publishing year





Environmental Research Letters





Document type

Journal article


IOP Publishing


  • Physical Geography




  • ISSN: 1748-9326