Ecological Climatology by Gordon Bonan
This book combines aspects of ecology and climatology to understand how natural and human changes in vegetation affect climate. Ecological climatology is an interdisciplinary framework to understand the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems in the climate system. It examines the physical, chemical, and biological processes by which terrestrial ecosystems affect and are affected by climate. The central theme is that terrestrial ecosystems, through their cycling of energy, water, chemical elements, and trace gases, are important determinants of climate. The coupling between climate and vegetation is seen at spatial scales from stomata to vegetation geography and at time scales of near instantaneous (stomata) to daily-to-weekly (leaf phenology) to centuries-to-millennia (biogeography).

Changes in terrestrial ecosystems through natural vegetation dynamics and through human land uses and land management are important mechanisms of climate change. The boreal forest-tundra ecotone and the North African Sahel are examples of climate-ecosystem dynamics at the biogeographical spatial and temporal scale. Deforestation, desertification of drylands, cultivation of grasslands, reforestation following farm abandonment, and urbanization are case studies of how human uses of land alter climate.

The book is written at an introductory level but assumes readers have a background in science. It is intended for students and professionals studying ecology, environmental science, atmospheric science, or geography. It is profusely illustrated with over 350 figures, many in color, and references over 1500 scientific studies. The book has two target audiences: (1) Professors, graduates students, and environmental professionals who want to learn about climatology, ecology, and how terrestrial ecosystems affect climate; and (2) Advanced undergraduate students and graduate students as a textbook for a course.

Cambridge University Press | 690 pages, 41 color plates, 68 tables, 330 figures, 14 chapters

Hardback | July 2002 | ISBN: 0521800323 | $150.00

Paperback | August 2002 | ISBN: 0521804760 | $60.00

1. Environmental Conservation (pdf)
2. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (pdf)
3. TEG NEWS (pdf)


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 1: Figures
Chapter 2: Global climatology Chapter 2: Figures
Chapter 3: Climate variability Chapter 3: Figures
Chapter 4: Climate change Chapter 4: Figures
Chapter 5: Hydrologic cycle Chapter 5: Figures
Chapter 6: Soils Chapter 6: Figures
Chapter 7: Surface energy fluxes Chapter 7: Figures
Chapter 8: Surface climates Chapter 8: Figures
Chapter 9: Leaves and plants Chapter 9: Figures
Chapter 10: Populations, communities, and ecosystems Chapter 10: Figures
Chapter 11: Vegetation dynamics Chapter 11: Figures
Chapter 12: Climate-ecosystem dynamics Chapter 12: Figures
Chapter 13: Agroecosystems Chapter 13: Figures
Chapter 14: Urban ecosystems Chapter 14: Figures

The first edition is out of print. The second edition is scheduled for publication in 2008. Chapter text and figures from the first edition can be downloaded as PDFs by clicking on the above chapter links. These are the original text and figures before typesetting. The quality of many figures is not as good as in the printed book and individual panels for certain figures may be arranged differently than in the printed book.

The book is divided into three parts. Part I introduces the principles of climatology. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 review the physical processes controlling global climate, climate variability at seasonal-to-interannual time scales, and climate change over periods of centuries to millennia. The traditional view is one in which climate determines the broad geographic distribution of vegetation. Terrestrial ecosystems are seen as passive components of the climate system, responding to climate change but not altering climate change. We now know this is not correct. Many of the feedbacks in the climate system are related to physical and biological processes that occur on land. Changes in snow cover, soil water, and the timing of leaf emergence are important determinants of seasonal-to-interannual climate variability. Natural and human-induced changes in land use and land cover alter climate.

Part II examines the hydrological, meteorological, and ecological processes by which landscapes affect and are affected by climate. The hydrologic cycle is reviewed first (Chapter 5), then soils and geologic processes (Chapter 6). The basic principles of micrometeorology are introduced to show how different environments, from an individual leaf to plants to landscapes, create their own microclimate. Chapter 7 introduces the basic scientific concepts of the surface energy budget – net radiation, sensible heat, latent heat, and ground heat storage. Chapter 8 shows how specific landscape features (e.g., forest clearings) create microclimates. Chapters 9 and 10 show how plants are organized into populations, communities, and ecosystems. Physiological processes are scaled from leaf-level to whole plants (Chapter 9) and then to communities and ecosystems (Chapter 10) to show how landscapes are organized in space. Landscapes change over time. Chapter 11 reviews the time scales at which vegetation changes and the ecological processes controlling vegetation dynamics.

Part III combines this knowledge of climatology, hydrology, geology, and ecology to show how natural and human-mediated changes in land use and land cover affect climate. First, natural vegetation change is considered in coupled climate-ecosystem dynamics (Chapter 12). This dynamics occurs at a variety of spatial scales from leaf stomata to changing biogeography. The time scales of this dynamics are near instantaneous, seasonal, annual, decadal, centuries, and millenia as determined by a variety of ecological processes such as plant physiology, allocation, succession, and migration. The boreal forest-tundra ecotone and the Sahel region of North Africa are important examples of climate-ecosystem dynamics at the biogeographical spatial and temporal scale. Human land uses also alter the flows of energy, water, and nutrients. Tropical deforestation, temperate deforestation, desertification of drylands, cultivation of grasslands, and reforestation following farm abandonment are case studies of how agricultural uses of land alter climate (Chapter 13). Urbanization also alters climate, hydrology, and ecological functions (Chapter 14).

Gordon Bonan is a scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division (CGD) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). He is head of the Terrestrial Sciences Section.