EGU24-2927, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Impacts of land use and climate change on montane forest ecosystem services in Africa

Temesgen Alemayehu Abera1,2, Eduardo Maeda2,3, Janne Heiskanen2,3, Mohammed Muhammed1, Netra Bhandari1, Binyam Hailu2,4, Petri Pellikka2, Thomas Nauss1, and Dirk Zeuss1
Temesgen Alemayehu Abera et al.
  • 1Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany
  • 2Faculty of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 4Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tropical montane cloud forest ecosystems contain some of the world's biodiversity hotspots and provide essential ecosystem services, including high quality freshwater and microclimate buffering against climate extremes. The microclimate buffering service provides microrefugia that allow species to persist under climate change, while the ability of montane forests to intercept cloud water from the atmosphere maintains freshwater availability. However, with increasing pressure from anthropogenic land use and climate change, the stability of montane forests to provide such ecosystem services remains unresolved. In this study, we investigated the impacts of deforestation and climate change on the cloud water interception capacity of montane forests in Africa over the last two decades. We predicted 2-m air and dew point temperature using satellite and in situ observations and ensemble machine learning. In addition, we estimated local warming due to deforestation and tested the 'lifting cloud base height' hypothesis attributed to deforestation and climate change separately. Our preliminary results show that 18% of montane forests in Africa were lost between 2003 and 2022, and deforestation increased the air temperature and lifted the cloud base height stronger than climate change. Deforestation weakened the cloud water interception capacity of montane forests in Africa. Overall, this study sheds light on the impacts of montane deforestation on local climate and water supply, which may have far-reaching implications for montane forest biodiversity and ecosystem service provision in Africa. 

This work is part of the MOFESD (montane forest ecosystem service dynamics in Africa) postdoctoral project funded by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

How to cite: Abera, T. A., Maeda, E., Heiskanen, J., Muhammed, M., Bhandari, N., Hailu, B., Pellikka, P., Nauss, T., and Zeuss, D.: Impacts of land use and climate change on montane forest ecosystem services in Africa, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-2927,, 2024.