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Title: Biospheric feedback effects in a synchronously coupled model of human and Earth systems

Abstract

Fossil fuel combustion and land-use change are the first and second largest contributors to industrial-era increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, which is itself the largest driver of present-day climate change1. Projections of fossil fuel consumption and land-use change are thus fundamental inputs for coupled Earth system models (ESM) used to estimate the physical and biological consequences of future climate system forcing2,3. While empirical datasets are available to inform historical analyses4,5, assessments of future climate change have relied on projections of energy and land use based on energy economic models, constrained using historical and present-day data and forced with assumptions about future policy, land-use patterns, and socio-economic development trajectories6. Here we show that the influence of biospheric change – the integrated effect of climatic, ecological, and geochemical processes – on land ecosystems has a significant impact on energy, agriculture, and land-use projections for the 21st century. Such feedbacks have been ignored in previous ESM studies of future climate. We find that synchronous exposure of land ecosystem productivity in the economic system to biospheric change as it develops in an ESM results in a 10% reduction of land area used for crop cultivation; increased managed forest area and land carbon; amore » 15-20% decrease in global crop price; and a 17% reduction in fossil fuel emissions for a low-mid range forcing scenario7. These simulation results demonstrate that biospheric change can significantly alter primary human system forcings to the climate system. This synchronous two-way coupling approach removes inconsistencies in description of climate change between human and biosphere components of the coupled model, mitigating a major source of uncertainty identified in assessments of future climate projections8-10.« less

Authors:
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Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1368124
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-111042
Journal ID: ISSN 1758-678X; KP1703020
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Nature Climate Change; Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 7
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
climate change; earth system modeling; integrated assessment; model coupling

Citation Formats

Thornton, Peter E., Calvin, Katherine, Jones, Andrew D., Di Vittorio, Alan V., Bond-Lamberty, Ben, Chini, Louise, Shi, Xiaoying, Mao, Jiafu, Collins, William D., Edmonds, Jae, Thomson, Allison, Truesdale, John, Craig, Anthony, Branstetter, Marcia L., and Hurtt, George. Biospheric feedback effects in a synchronously coupled model of human and Earth systems. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1038/nclimate3310.
Thornton, Peter E., Calvin, Katherine, Jones, Andrew D., Di Vittorio, Alan V., Bond-Lamberty, Ben, Chini, Louise, Shi, Xiaoying, Mao, Jiafu, Collins, William D., Edmonds, Jae, Thomson, Allison, Truesdale, John, Craig, Anthony, Branstetter, Marcia L., & Hurtt, George. Biospheric feedback effects in a synchronously coupled model of human and Earth systems. United States. doi:10.1038/nclimate3310.
Thornton, Peter E., Calvin, Katherine, Jones, Andrew D., Di Vittorio, Alan V., Bond-Lamberty, Ben, Chini, Louise, Shi, Xiaoying, Mao, Jiafu, Collins, William D., Edmonds, Jae, Thomson, Allison, Truesdale, John, Craig, Anthony, Branstetter, Marcia L., and Hurtt, George. Mon . "Biospheric feedback effects in a synchronously coupled model of human and Earth systems". United States. doi:10.1038/nclimate3310.
@article{osti_1368124,
title = {Biospheric feedback effects in a synchronously coupled model of human and Earth systems},
author = {Thornton, Peter E. and Calvin, Katherine and Jones, Andrew D. and Di Vittorio, Alan V. and Bond-Lamberty, Ben and Chini, Louise and Shi, Xiaoying and Mao, Jiafu and Collins, William D. and Edmonds, Jae and Thomson, Allison and Truesdale, John and Craig, Anthony and Branstetter, Marcia L. and Hurtt, George},
abstractNote = {Fossil fuel combustion and land-use change are the first and second largest contributors to industrial-era increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, which is itself the largest driver of present-day climate change1. Projections of fossil fuel consumption and land-use change are thus fundamental inputs for coupled Earth system models (ESM) used to estimate the physical and biological consequences of future climate system forcing2,3. While empirical datasets are available to inform historical analyses4,5, assessments of future climate change have relied on projections of energy and land use based on energy economic models, constrained using historical and present-day data and forced with assumptions about future policy, land-use patterns, and socio-economic development trajectories6. Here we show that the influence of biospheric change – the integrated effect of climatic, ecological, and geochemical processes – on land ecosystems has a significant impact on energy, agriculture, and land-use projections for the 21st century. Such feedbacks have been ignored in previous ESM studies of future climate. We find that synchronous exposure of land ecosystem productivity in the economic system to biospheric change as it develops in an ESM results in a 10% reduction of land area used for crop cultivation; increased managed forest area and land carbon; a 15-20% decrease in global crop price; and a 17% reduction in fossil fuel emissions for a low-mid range forcing scenario7. These simulation results demonstrate that biospheric change can significantly alter primary human system forcings to the climate system. This synchronous two-way coupling approach removes inconsistencies in description of climate change between human and biosphere components of the coupled model, mitigating a major source of uncertainty identified in assessments of future climate projections8-10.},
doi = {10.1038/nclimate3310},
journal = {Nature Climate Change},
number = 7,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Jun 12 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Mon Jun 12 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}