By Clive McAlpine, Jozef Syktus and Leonie Seabrook .
In Queensland in 2013–14, 278,000 hectares of native vegetation were cleared (1.2 times the size of the Australian Capital Territory). A further 296,000ha were cleared in 2014–15. These are the highest rates of deforestation in the developed world.
Land clearing on this scale is bad for a whole host of reasons. But our research shows that it is also likely to make parts of Australia warmer and drier, adding to the effects of climate change.
Land clearing releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but the effect of land clearing on climate goes well beyond carbon emissions. It causes warming locally, regionally and even globally, and it changes rainfall by altering the circulation of heat and moisture.