Articles | Volume 14, issue 20
Biogeosciences, 14, 4619–4635, 2017
Biogeosciences, 14, 4619–4635, 2017

Research article 25 Oct 2017

Research article | 25 Oct 2017

Expansion of oil palm and other cash crops causes an increase of the land surface temperature in the Jambi province in Indonesia

Clifton R. Sabajo1,2, Guerric le Maire3, Tania June4, Ana Meijide1, Olivier Roupsard3,5, and Alexander Knohl1,6 Clifton R. Sabajo et al.
  • 1University of Göttingen, Bioclimatology, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
  • 2AgroParisTech – Centre de Montpellier, Agropolis International, 648 rue Jean-François Breton, 34093 Montpellier, France
  • 3CIRAD, UMR Eco&Sols, 34398 Montpellier, France
  • 4Agrometeorology Laboratory Department of Geophysics and Meteorology, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), Bogor, Indonesia
  • 5CATIE, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza/Tropical Agriculture Centre for Research and Higher Education, 7170 Turrialba, Costa Rica
  • 6University of Göttingen, Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use (CBL), 37073 Göttingen, Germany

Abstract. Indonesia is currently one of the regions with the highest transformation rate of land surface worldwide related to the expansion of oil palm plantations and other cash crops replacing forests on large scales. Land cover changes, which modify land surface properties, have a direct effect on the land surface temperature (LST), a key driver for many ecological functions. Despite the large historic land transformation in Indonesia toward oil palm and other cash crops and governmental plans for future expansion, this is the first study so far to quantify the impacts of land transformation on the LST in Indonesia. We analyze LST from the thermal band of a Landsat image and produce a high-resolution surface temperature map (30 m) for the lowlands of the Jambi province in Sumatra (Indonesia), a region which suffered large land transformation towards oil palm and other cash crops over the past decades. The comparison of LST, albedo, normalized differenced vegetation index (NDVI) and evapotranspiration (ET) between seven different land cover types (forest, urban areas, clear-cut land, young and mature oil palm plantations, acacia and rubber plantations) shows that forests have lower surface temperatures than the other land cover types, indicating a local warming effect after forest conversion. LST differences were up to 10.1 ± 2.6 °C (mean ± SD) between forest and clear-cut land. The differences in surface temperatures are explained by an evaporative cooling effect, which offsets the albedo warming effect. Our analysis of the LST trend of the past 16 years based on MODIS data shows that the average daytime surface temperature in the Jambi province increased by 1.05 °C, which followed the trend of observed land cover changes and exceeded the effects of climate warming. This study provides evidence that the expansion of oil palm plantations and other cash crops leads to changes in biophysical variables, warming the land surface and thus enhancing the increase of the air temperature because of climate change.

Short summary
From the analysis of MODIS and Landsat satellite data of the Jambi province in Indonesia, this first study on the effects of oil palm expansion on the surface temperature in Indonesia shows shows a local and regional warming effect caused by the expansion of oil palm plantations and other cash or tree crops between 2000 and 2015. The observed warming effects may affect ecosystem services, reduce water availabilty in the dry period and increase the vulnerability to fires in the province.
Final-revised paper