For centuries, people have understood that forests, and our utilisation of them, influence the climate. With modern environmental concerns, there is now scientific, governmental, and popular interest in planting trees for climate protection. This book examines the historical origins of the idea that forests influence climate, the bitter controversy that ended the science, and its modern rebirth. Spanning the 1500s to the present, it provides a broad perspective across the physical and biological sciences, as well as the humanities, to explain the many ways forests influence climate. It describes their use in climate-smart forestry and as a natural climate solution, and demonstrates that in the forest–climate question, human and sylvan fates are linked. Accessibly written with minimal mathematics, it is ideal for students in environmental and related sciences, as well as anyone with an interest in understanding the environmental workings of forests and their interactions with climate.
Part I: Historical Perspective:
1. The Forest-Climate Question
2. Tempering the Climate, c. 1600–1840
3. Destroying the Rains, c. 1500–1830
4. Planting Trees for Rain, c. 1840–1900
5. Making a Science: Forest Meteorology, c. 1850–1880
6. American Meteorologists Speak Out, c. 1850–1910
7. Views of Forests
Part II: The Scientific Basis:
8. Global Physical Climatology
9. Forest Biometeorology
10. Scientific Tools
11. Forest Microclimates
12. Water Yield
13. Carbon Sequestration
14. Forest Macroclimates
15. Case Studies
16. Climate-Smart Forests
17. Forests of the Future
18. The Forests Before Us
Gordon Bonan is a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He is the author of Ecological Climatology (2015), Climate Change and Terrestrial Ecosystem Modeling (2019), and numerous publications on terrestrial ecosystems and climate. He is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, and the Ecological Society of America.
"Gordon Bonan is one of the world's leading experts on the carbon, water and energy dynamics of forests, and their influence on the Earth system [...] Bonan's understanding of the history of the forest-climate controversy (do forests affect climate, and for good or ill?) is encyclopedic, and in the first part of this book he tells the story in wonderful detail. This is followed by a clear and engaging description of how that controversy has been resolved through modern research, and an accessible telling of how forests actually function, from microclimates to the global carbon cycle. Case studies of climate sensitive regions and the potential for climate-smart forests bring the knowledge presented throughout the book to bear on important questions we face about conserving and managing these magnificent ecosystems."
– John Aber, University Professor emeritus, University of New Hampshire; author of Less Heat More Light
"In this poignant book, Gordon Bonan explains why scientists have spent centuries debating whether forests really help to maintain a climate conducive to life on Earth. His mix of history and science will appeal to anyone who wants to understand why forests have long been so controversial in both the scientific and political realms. His central argument is that the study of the relationship between forests and climate must be approached with nuance, humility, and an appreciation of the value of multiple ways of knowing. His book exemplifies these virtues."
– Deborah Coen, Yale University
"This is the third book in Gordon Bonan's exceptional series focussing on ecology and terrestrial ecosystems. It is the most accessible for a broader audience and will excite and intrigue readers from earth systems, ecology, environmental science and elsewhere. Even the expert will find a depth of history, and explanations of how our science fragmented and was renewed to become part of the solution to climate change."
– Andy Pitman, University of New South Wales
"Another must have book by Professor Gordan Bonan! Bonan takes a thoughtful, detailed and novel approach from both a historical and interdisciplinary scientific lens to examine how forests influence climate. This book will appeal to a range of audiences from detailed practitioners within the field to an interested undergrad!"
– Christiane Runyan, Johns Hopkins University
"Gordan Bonan's new book provides a fascinating historical context for pressing questions about the role of forests in altering climate. It should be required reading for anyone interested in preserving or manipulating forests to benefit humans and the climate we live in. There is no better author to tell the story of the historical understanding on this topic than Bonan, the leading expert in our modern understanding of forest-climate interactions."
– Abigail L. S. Swann, University of Washington