Purdue Climate Change Research Center

Changes of Land Cover and Land Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Northern Eurasia: Impacts on Human Adaptation and Quality of Life at Regional and Global Scales

Funded by the National Science Foundation

Northern Eurasia accounts for about 20% of the Earth’s land surface and 60% of the terrestrial land cover north of 40°N. It contains 70% of the Earth's boreal forests and more than two-thirds of the Earth's land that is underlain by permafrost. The region is covered by vast areas of peatland, complex tundra in the north and semi-deserts and deserts in the south, including the Mongolia plateau. The surface air temperature has increased in the last half century and this increase will continue during this century. To date, studies have generally focused on analyzing climate change effects on biogeochemical processes and mechanisms governing the carbon and water dynamics in the region or potential changes in the distribution of natural vegetation. While the team will also examine such issues, they will focus on how patterns of land use in Northern Eurasia may change in the future due to the following:

  1. Economic pressures for providing food, fiber and fuel to a growing global population.
  2. Opportunities for expanding managed ecosystems into areas that experience a more favorable climate in the future.
  3. Abandonment of managed ecosystems in other areas that experience a less favorable climate.

The research team will examine how these future changes in land use and land cover could influence the exchange of CO2 and CH4 between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere, terrestrial carbon storage and primary productivity, water supply, and radiative forcing of the atmosphere through changes in surface albedo. They will also assess how human adaptation and quality of life may be impacted by these changes. To conduct this analysis, a system of linked models that include the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model of the world economy, the SiBCliM bioclimatic vegetation model, and the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM) will be used.

The multi-disciplinary U.S. scientific team includes ecosystem scientists, biogeochemical modelers, and economists, which will be complemented by international collaborators from the Russian Academy of Sciences, the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


  • Qianlai Zhuang, Departments of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and Agronomy

Contact Information

Purdue University
203 S. Martin Jischke Drive
MANN 105
West Lafayette, IN 47907