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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Urbana, Illinois » Global Change and Photosynthesis Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #308306

Title: The biophysical link between climate, water, and vegetation in bioenergy agro-ecosystems

item BAGLEY, JUSTIN - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
item DAVIS, SARAH - Ohio University
item GEORGESCU, MATTEI - Arizona State University
item HUSSAIN, MIR ZAMAN - Michigan State University
item MILLER, JESSE - University Of Illinois
item NESBITT, STEPHEN - University Of Illinois
item VANLOOCKE, ANDY - Iowa State University
item Bernacchi, Carl

Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/12/2014
Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Citation: Bagley, J.E., Davis, S.C., Georgescu, M., Hussain, M., Miller, J.N., Nesbitt, S.W., VanLoocke, A., Bernacchi, C.J. 2014. The biophysical link between climate, water, and vegetation in bioenergy agro-ecosystems. Biomass and Bioenergy. 71:187-201.

Interpretive Summary: The biofuel industry is continuing to expand to meet demands for renewable fuels. Much of the focus on bioenergy production involves the uptake of carbon by plants. This review focuses on aspects related to how land use change to accommodate biofuels can influence climate and water related issues. Specifically, this review addresses issues related to feedbacks between plants and climate at local, regional, and larger scales, with issues related to how plants can warm or cool the surface, can influence the amount of humidity in the atmosphere, and how these together can influence climate in various areas. The review further identified major unknowns that should be the focus of future research.

Technical Abstract: Land use change for bioenergy feedstocks is likely to intensify as energy demand rises simultaneously with increased pressure to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Initial assessments of the impact of adopting bioenergy crops as a significant energy source have largely focused on the potential for bioenergy agroecosystems to provide global-scale climate regulating ecosystem services via biogeochemical processes associated with carbon uptake, conversion, and storage that have the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). However, the expansion of bioenergy crops can also lead to direct biophysical impacts on climate through water regulating services. Perturbations of processes influencing terrestrial energy fluxes can result in impacts on climate and water across a spectrum of spatial and temporal scales. Locally, impacts on climate of biophysical changes associated with land use change for bioenergy crops can meet or exceed the biogeochemical changes in climate associated with rising GHG's, but these impacts have received far less attention. Realization of the importance of ecosystems in providing services that extend beyond biogeochemical GHG regulation and harvestable yields has led to significant debate regarding the viability of various feedstocks in many locations. The lack of data, and in some cases gaps in knowledge associated with biophysical influences on land-atmosphere interactions, can lead to premature policy decisions. Here, we review the current state of knowledge about biophysical feedbacks between vegetation, water, and climate that would be affected by bioenergy related land use change.