skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

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:
ORCiD logo; ; ; ; ORCiD logo; ; ; ORCiD logo; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF); Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1368124
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-111042
Journal ID: ISSN 1758-678X; KP1703020
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Nature Climate Change
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 1758-678X
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
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},
issn = {1758-678X},
number = 7,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {6}
}

Works referenced in this record:

Causes and implications of persistent atmospheric carbon dioxide biases in Earth System Models
journal, February 2014

  • Hoffman, F. M.; Randerson, J. T.; Arora, V. K.
  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Vol. 119, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1002/2013JG002381

Carbon cycling under 300 years of land use change: Importance of the secondary vegetation sink: CARBON CYCLING AND LAND USE IN LM3V
journal, June 2009

  • Shevliakova, Elena; Pacala, Stephen W.; Malyshev, Sergey
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 23, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1029/2007GB003176

A synthesis of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion
journal, January 2012


The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment
journal, February 2010

  • Moss, Richard H.; Edmonds, Jae A.; Hibbard, Kathy A.
  • Nature, Vol. 463, Issue 7282
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature08823

RCP4.5: a pathway for stabilization of radiative forcing by 2100
journal, July 2011

  • Thomson, Allison M.; Calvin, Katherine V.; Smith, Steven J.
  • Climatic Change, Vol. 109, Issue 1-2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0151-4

Greenhouse Gas Policy Influences Climate via Direct Effects of Land-Use Change
journal, June 2013


The representative concentration pathways: an overview
journal, August 2011


The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300
journal, August 2011


Global and regional evolution of short-lived radiatively-active gases and aerosols in the Representative Concentration Pathways
journal, August 2011

  • Lamarque, Jean-François; Kyle, G. Page; Meinshausen, Malte
  • Climatic Change, Vol. 109, Issue 1-2
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0155-0

Climate change effects on agriculture: Economic responses to biophysical shocks
journal, December 2013

  • Nelson, Gerald C.; Valin, Hugo; Sands, Ronald D.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 111, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222465110

Land-Use and Carbon Cycle Responses to Moderate Climate Change: Implications for Land-Based Mitigation?
journal, May 2015

  • Humpenöder, Florian; Popp, Alexander; Stevanovic, Miodrag
  • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 49, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1021/es506201r

Climate change impact uncertainties for maize in Panama: Farm information, climate projections, and yield sensitivities
journal, March 2013


Rice yields in tropical/subtropical Asia exhibit large but opposing sensitivities to minimum and maximum temperatures
journal, August 2010

  • Welch, J. R.; Vincent, J. R.; Auffhammer, M.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 107, Issue 33
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001222107

Forest response to elevated CO2 is conserved across a broad range of productivity
journal, December 2005

  • Norby, R. J.; DeLucia, E. H.; Gielen, B.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 102, Issue 50
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0509478102

Uncertainties in the relationship between atmospheric nitrogen deposition and forest carbon sequestration
journal, September 2008


CO2 enhancement of forest productivity constrained by limited nitrogen availability
journal, October 2010

  • Norby, R. J.; Warren, J. M.; Iversen, C. M.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 107, Issue 45
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1006463107

Assessing agricultural risks of climate change in the 21st century in a global gridded crop model intercomparison
journal, December 2013

  • Rosenzweig, Cynthia; Elliott, Joshua; Deryng, Delphine
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 111, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222463110

Climate simulation of the twenty-first century with interactive land-use changes
journal, February 2007


Economic and Physical Modeling of land use in gcam 3.0 and an Application to Agricultural Productivity, Land, and Terrestrial Carbon
journal, May 2014


The Community Earth System Model: A Framework for Collaborative Research
journal, September 2013

  • Hurrell, James W.; Holland, M. M.; Gent, P. R.
  • Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 94, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00121.1

The integrated Earth system model version 1: formulation and functionality
journal, January 2015

  • Collins, W. D.; Craig, A. P.; Truesdale, J. E.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 8, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-8-2203-2015

On linking an Earth system model to the equilibrium carbon representation of an economically optimizing land use model
journal, January 2014

  • Bond-Lamberty, B.; Calvin, K.; Jones, A. D.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 7, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-7-2545-2014

Confidence, uncertainty and decision-support relevance in climate predictions
journal, June 2007

  • Stainforth, D. A.; Allen, M. R.; Tredger, E. R.
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol. 365, Issue 1857
  • DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2007.2074

The iterative contribution and relevance of modelling to UK energy policy
journal, March 2009


Influence of carbon-nitrogen cycle coupling on land model response to CO 2 fertilization and climate variability : INFLUENCE OF CARBON-NITROGEN COUPLING
journal, December 2007

  • Thornton, Peter E.; Lamarque, Jean-François; Rosenbloom, Nan A.
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 21, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1029/2006GB002868

    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Interactions Between Land-Use Change and Climate-Carbon Cycle Feedbacks
    journal, April 2018


    Interactions Between Land-Use Change and Climate-Carbon Cycle Feedbacks
    journal, April 2018