Climatic Impact of Tropical Lowland Deforestation on Nearby Montane Cloud Forests

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Science  19 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5542, pp. 584-587
DOI: 10.1126/science.1062459

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Tropical montane cloud forests (TMCFs) depend on predictable, frequent, and prolonged immersion in cloud. Clearing upwind lowland forest alters surface energy budgets in ways that influence dry season cloud fields and thus the TMCF environment. Landsat and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite imagery show that deforested areas of Costa Rica's Caribbean lowlands remain relatively cloud-free when forested regions have well-developed dry season cumulus cloud fields. Further, regional atmospheric simulations show that cloud base heights are higher over pasture than over tropical forest areas under reasonable dry season conditions. These results suggest that land use in tropical lowlands has serious impacts on ecosystems in adjacent mountains.

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