Deforestation's affect on Climate

This topic submitted by John-Thomas Crockett, Sarah Hewitt, Joe Johnson, Christian Ratterman (, at 12:18 am on 9/30/00. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Cummins

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Question: What are the effects of Deforestation on the Local Climate and what if any are the Global Implications?


The study of climate can tell a great deal about the Earth. It can help explain natural phenomena such as hurricanes and tornados, and we can make inferences about plant and animal adaptation and evolution over Earth?s history.

By studying climatologically trends, we can better understand both the Earth?s history and its current state. We can understand how oceans and deserts were formed, how animals came to inhabit specific areas and how certain species finally came to be extinct. We can come to understand how winds and water sculpted the mountain ranges over periods of millions of years and how those same winds and waters have affected all life on Earth. Through these studies we can even make predictions about our planet?s future.

We believe that plant density directly affects the rate of evaporation within a specific area. As a corollary to that the rate of evaporation is connected to the rate of precipitation thus affecting the climate in that defined area.

The purpose of our laboratory exercise is to understand deforestation?s global effect on climate by studying the relationship between plant density and evaporation. By better understanding this relationship, we aim to discover any detrimental effects deforestation may have on the Earth, and assuming that there is a negative correlation, we intend to postulate ways to counteract any further destruction.

Not all deforestation is preventable, and not all deforestation is naturally occurring. There are some instances in the Earth?s history where natural processes changed forest to desert and oceans to plains. However, today, millions of acres of forest are destroyed by humans for commercial exploitation. It is important for humans to understand the impact their actions today have on the world tomorrow.


The effect climate has on Earth appeals to scientist who specialize in different areas of study. Climatologists, meteorologists, archeologists, biologists, and botanists all have vested interest in better understanding the ways in which climate is affected and how it affects life on Earth. Studying the relationship between plant density and evaporation, as well as the relationship between local evaporation and climate has importance to many scientific disciplines.

Scientist who study climate, climatologists, study the global trends of climate over extended periods of time. They look at the factors that affect climate such as temperature, geologic phenomena (i.e., earthquakes, and volcanoes), population ecology, and even extinction level events (ELEs). They would be very interested in the relationship deforestation would have on local and global climate.

Meteorologists use climate as a reference tool. By understanding an areas climate, they are able to interpret and explain weather patterns and predict the weather with remarkable accuracy. Understanding what affects climate would allow them to better predict the weather.

Archeologist can use information about what the Earth?s historic climate was as a tool identifying where certain species lived, how they adapted and evolved to fit their individual environments, and where certain species may be found. If deforestation has an affect on climate, this knowledge would ad them in their uncovering of fossils, and their interpretations of what they discover.

Biologist and botanist would like to understand the mechanics of and interactions between living things and plants, respectfully. To understand better the relationship between evaporation rates and climate would allow them to better understand how plants work and how they interact with their environments.

The aspects, factors, and effects of deforestation on local and global climate have been the subject of many articles and journalistic letters. Likewise, the study of evaporation rates relative to climates and plant ? evaporation mechanics? has also been done. It is the goal of this study to incorporate all of these aspects (climate, evaporation, deforestation, and plant biology) with the goal of understanding them all better.

With human deforestation occurring on a larger and larger scale every year, it is important to better understand the long-lasting effects this action will have on the world around us. Perhaps, there are methods of counter-acting any harmful effects deforestation has on local or global climates and this study will lend evidence to theories that propose this. Perhaps, there is nothing that can be done to rectify the changes in evaporation levels due to deforestation and this exercise will reiterate this reality. However, since climate is an issue of global importance, this study is relevant to all the world's inhabitants.


We predict that evaporation will be most rapid in the areas with least tree density. We also believe that of the four non-control testing sites, the sidewalk will have the most rapid evaporation followed by the field, and then the edge of the woods. Evaporation will be the least rapid in the wooded area. These predictions would seem to be true because the lower the tree density, the more the area will be exposed to direct sunlight. As deforestation occurs the evaporation process becomes more and more skewed from its natural state. On a global scale, we believe that deforestation has a negative effect on plant and animal life. When climate is distorted all living things will be affected.

Materials and Methods

Required Materials

1) 50 circular pie pans (standard pie size)

2) Water from western pond

3) 2 Buckets to carry the water

4) 4 metric measuring cups that can hold at least 250ml)

5) 5 temperature gages

6)Caution Tape

7)Sticks or stakes to mound Caution tape on.

8)2 sunny Sundays (the 8th and the 15th with a back up of the 22nd with any )

We have five test sites planned (see below) and we will place 10 pans of water in each one. We will have 250ml of water per pan and in each location we will place a temperature gage in a spot not shaded by the pie pans or other things we place on the site. We will mark off each of the locations with the Caution tape so that we can avoid as much human intrusion as possible.

Test Sites

1) Wooded area on east side of the outdoor theater stage. The place that we found is subject to change if a more heavily wooded area is found. We will also have to take into account how bare the trees are at that time and what area is the least barren.

2) The edge of the woods near the wooded experiment. We have the cove east of the western theater.

3) A side walk in the sun. We are planning of using a section back by the parking lot between Peabody and Boyd.
4) A Grassy spot in the sun. We are using the field between Peabody and Boyd the spot that seems the sunniest and has the most potential through our recent observations near the parking lot by a light pole. 5) The Weather Center. We want to use the weather center as a control. We plan on measuring the temperature and the solar radiation.

We will be running our experiment on Sunday the 8th and the 15th we will have a back up date of the 22nd. The tests will be run from 10:00am until 3:50. Each test set will receive 5 ½ hours of evaporation time. We will place the pans out in the layout below (Layout). We will put the water in the pans and later remove and measure amounts in the same order 1-10.


Our Group will split up into 2 teams. (Group 1- Joe Johnson & Christian Ratterman, Group 2- Sarah Hewitt & John-Thomas Crockett) Each team will set up the experiment and watch and check the results in the layout below.

Experimental Timing

9:30am Groups mark off the test sites and place the empty pie pans out.

10:00am Group 1 puts 250ml of water into each pan in the woods.

10:00am Group 2 puts 250ml of water into each pan on sidewalk.

10:10am Group 1 puts 250ml of water into each pan on edge of woods.

10:10am Group 2 puts 250ml of water into each pan in open grassy field.

10:20am Group 1 & 2 Meet at Boyd and fill the pans in weather center with 250ml of water.

Every half hour starting at 11 the groups will switch between either 1. Check the test sites and recording temperature 2) Record the online weather center time, temperature readings, and sun radiation off Boyd weather site. (

3:30pm Group 1 empties, measures and records data for each pan in the woods.

3:30pm Group 2 empties, measures and records data from each pan on sidewalk.

3:40pm Group 1 empties, measures and records data from each pan on edge of woods

3:40pm Group 2 empties, measures and records data from each pan in field.

3:50pm Groups 1 & 2 empty, measure and records data from each pan on the roof of Boyd.

4:00pm Groups 1 & 2 Clean Up all sites.

Data for the experiments will be compiled on the attached data sheet (below) and will be used to input information into Stat View so that we can find the proper results. We will decide on the temperature data sheet once we know how the thermometers work.

Data Sheet

Test Site
Site 1 Site 2 Site 3 Site4 Site 5
Pan #

The rest of the class

We plan to have the rest of the class fill out the below questionnaire so that we can get an idea of what they know about this topic. We also want to know if they have any questions about our topic that we should answer in our study.


We will be testing the rate of evaporation in several areas with varying tree & plant density.
1) Where do you think evaporation will be most rapid?

00000a) Wooded area outside of Ernst Theater

00000b) Edge of woods near Ernst Theater

00000c) Sidewalk between Peabody and Boyd

00000d) Clover Lab field

2) Where will evaporation be least rapid?

00000a) Wooded area outside of Ernst Theater

00000b) Edge of woods near Ernst Theater

00000c) Sidewalk between Peabody and Boyd

00000d) Clover Lab field
3) Write a brief statement describing what effect deforestation has on climate.

4) How is this related to evaporation time?

6)Do you have any questions about the effect of deforestation has on climate that we can try to answer in our study?

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