Forests regulate climate at local, regional, and global scales through exchanges of momentum, energy, moisture, and chemicals with the atmosphere. The notion that forests affect climate is not new. A vigorous debate about deforestation, land use, and climate change occurred during the colonial settlement of North America and continued through the 1800s, but the arguments of conservationists and foresters for forest–climate influences were dismissed by meteorologists. Modern climate science shows that forests warm climate annually by decreasing surface albedo, cool climate through surface roughness and evapotranspiration and by storing carbon, and have additional effects through atmospheric chemistry. Land use is a key aspect of climate policy, but we lack comprehensive policy recommendations. Like our predecessors, we are seeking a deeper understanding of Earth's climate, its ecosystems, and our uses of those ecosystems, and just as importantly we are still searching for the right interdisciplinary framework in which to find those answers.


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