Land use and microclimate

Climate change is posing a threat to the food security of semi-arid countries, including Kenya, as dry spells, heat stress and extreme rain events are predicted to become more common in the future.

The pressure on natural environments is increasing with changes in precipitation and the need for more land for agricultural production. The clearing of bushland and forest to agricultural land affects the carbon balance, radiative properties and microclimate of an area. Trees have a cooling impact on microclimate, meaning that the temperatures in forests and areas with trees are usually some degrees lower compared to open land. Trees affect the surrounding microclimate mainly through evapotranspiration, interception of incoming radiation, and albedo. Agroforestry - the combination of trees with agricultural crops or livestock - can help farmers in mitigating to climate change.

We collected Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) data for different land use covers in Kenya and continuously monitored microclimate conditions for these areas. We aim to investigate how canopy cover may affect the local climate and how they interact with the environmental heterogeneity at local and regional scales.