Land use is not only a cause of climate change, but also holds major opportunities for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The Environmental Geography Group investigates the feedbacks between land use and the climate system.

Today society faces two inseparably linked global environmental challenges: climate change and land-cover/use change. One the one hand, land-cover/use change is the second largest contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide after fossil fuel burning. Land-cover/use change alters biogeochemical processes and biophysical processes. On the other hand, climate change impacts the composition and properties of ecosystems, land management practices and affects our water and food supply, e.g. by droughts, storms or changing temperatures.

Our group aims to provide tools and data to better understand the impacts and feedbacks in the coupled human-land-climate system, especially focussing on the role of humans in this system. We study land – climate interactions at various spatial and temporal scales with a focus on improving the representation of land change processes in global scale environmental assessments and climate models. We achieve this by providing more detailed measures of land change dynamics and by implementing these into operational land use models. Our group is interested in land change history to better grasp current land-climate interactions and we model future land use scenarios to assess with interdisciplinary methods the impact of future land use decisions on the climate. Specific attention is given to the role of human decision making in land use and adaptation as a core component of the human-land-climate system.

Selected key publications: