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Recently available satellite land cover land use (LCLU) and albedo data are used to study the impact of LCLU change from 1973 to 2000 on surface albedo and radiative forcing for 36 ecoregions covering 43% of the conterminous United States (CONUS). Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) snowfree broadband albedo values are derived from Landsat LCLU classification maps located using a stratified random sampling methodology to estimate ecoregion estimates of LCLU induced albedo change and surface radiative forcing.

The results illustrate that radiative forcing due to LCLU change may be disguised when spatially and temporally explicit data sets are not used. The radiative forcing due to contemporary LCLU albedo change varies geographically in sign and magnitude, with the most positive forcings (up to 0.284 Wm^-2) due to conversion of agriculture to other LCLU types, and the most negative forcings (as low as -.247 Wm^-2 ) due to forest loss. For the 36 ecoregions considered a small net positive forcing (i.e., warming) of 0.012 Wm^-2 is estimated.

Citation: Barnes, C. A., and D. P. Roy (2008), Radiative forcing over the conterminous United States due to contemporary land cover land use albedo change, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L09706, doi:10.1029/2008GL033567.

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