Relationship between land surface temperature and fraction of anthropized area in the Atlantic forest region, Brazil

PLoS One. 2019 Dec 5;14(12):e0225443. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225443. eCollection 2019.


There is growing evidence that modification of tropical forests to pasture or other anthropic uses (anthropization) leads to land surface warming at local and regional scales; however, the degree of this effect is unknown given the dependence on physiographic and atmospheric conditions. We investigated the dependence of satellite land surface temperature (LST) on the fraction of anthropized area index, defined as the fraction of non-forested percentual area within 120m square boxes, sampled over a large tropical forest dominated ecosystem spatial domain in the Atlantic Forest biome, southeastern Brazil. The LST estimated at a 30 m resolution, showed a significant dependence on elevation and topographic aspect, which controlled the average thermal regime by 2~4°C and 1~2°C, respectively. The correction of LST by these topographic factors allowed to detect a dependence of LST on the fraction of non-forested area. Accordingly, the relationship between LST and the fraction of non-forested area showed a positive linear relationship (R2 = 0.63), whereby each 25% increase of non-forest area resulted in increased 1°C. As such, increase of the maximum temperature (~4°C) would occur in the case of 100% increase of non-forested area. We conclude that our study area, composed to Atlantic forest, appears to show regulatory characteristics of temperature attenuation as a local climatic ecosystem service, which may have mitigation effects on the accelerated global warming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Forests*
  • Temperature*
  • Tropical Climate

Grant support

This work was supported by "Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brasil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001", scholarships granted to the authors RLWN and LMD. This work was also supported by Project FAPESP ClimateWise Project “Climate-Smart Watershed Investments in the Montane Tropics of South America” (2015/50682-6), by FAPESP ECOFOR "Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning in degraded and recovering Amazonian and Atlantic Forests” (2012/51872-5), by CNPq Project “O regime hidrológico das bacias dos Rios Piracicaba e Paraíba do Sul no clima futuro: avaliação de padrões, incertezas e impactos do uso da terra” (446278/2015-7), and by CAPES/ANA Project “Pró-Recursos Hídricos Estimativa de evapotranspiração por sensoriamento remoto para gestão de recursos hídricos no Brasil” (Notice 16/2017). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.