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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}
}
  • Fossil fuel combustion and land-use change are the two largest contributors to industrial-era increases in atmospheric CO 2 concentration. Projections of these are thus fundamental inputs for coupled Earth system models (ESMs) used to estimate the physical and biological consequences of future climate system forcing. While historical datasets are available to inform past and current climate analyses, assessments of future climate change have relied on projections of energy and land use from energy economic models, constrained by assumptions about future policy, land-use patterns, and socio-economic development trajectories. We show that the climatic impacts on land ecosystems drives significant feedbacks inmore » energy, agriculture, land-use, and carbon cycle projections for the 21st century. We also find that exposure of human appropriated land ecosystem productivity to biospheric change results in reductions of land area used for crops; increases in managed forest area and carbon stocks; decreases in global crop prices; and reduction in fossil fuel emissions for a low-mid range forcing scenario. Furthermore, the feedbacks between climate-induced biospheric change and human system forcings to the climate system demonstrated here are handled inconsistently, or excluded altogether, in the one-way asynchronous coupling of energy economic models to ESMs used to date.« less
    Cited by 1
  • Fossil fuel combustion and land-use change are the two largest contributors to industrial-era increases in atmospheric CO 2 concentration. Projections of these are thus fundamental inputs for coupled Earth system models (ESMs) used to estimate the physical and biological consequences of future climate system forcing. While historical datasets are available to inform past and current climate analyses, assessments of future climate change have relied on projections of energy and land use from energy economic models, constrained by assumptions about future policy, land-use patterns, and socio-economic development trajectories. We show that the climatic impacts on land ecosystems drives significant feedbacks inmore » energy, agriculture, land-use, and carbon cycle projections for the 21st century. We also find that exposure of human appropriated land ecosystem productivity to biospheric change results in reductions of land area used for crops; increases in managed forest area and carbon stocks; decreases in global crop prices; and reduction in fossil fuel emissions for a low-mid range forcing scenario. Furthermore, the feedbacks between climate-induced biospheric change and human system forcings to the climate system demonstrated here are handled inconsistently, or excluded altogether, in the one-way asynchronous coupling of energy economic models to ESMs used to date.« less
    Cited by 1
  • Demand for agricultural products is an important problem in climate change economics. Food consumption will shape and shaped by climate change and emissions mitigation policies through interactions with bioenergy and afforestation, two critical issues in meeting international climate goals such as two-degrees. We develop a model of food demand for staple and nonstaple commodities that evolves with changing incomes and prices. The model addresses a long-standing issue in estimating food demands, the evolution of demand relationships across large changes in income and prices. We discuss the model, some of its properties and limitations. We estimate parameter values using pooled cross-sectional-time-seriesmore » observations and the Metropolis Monte Carlo method and cross-validate the model by estimating parameters using a subset of the observations and test its ability to project into the unused observations. Finally, we apply bias correction techniques borrowed from the climate-modeling community and report results.« less
  • A method for generation of picosecond tunable dye laser pulses was proposed and implemented. The laser was pumped synchronously and a feedback was established as a result of simultaneous Bragg diffraction on a distributed periodic structure created in a dye and on an external mirror resonator. The efficiency was increased experimentally by a factor of seven compared with a distributed feedback laser and the divergence of the output radiation was reduced sixfold.
  • Understanding of carbon exchange between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere can be improved through direct observations and experiments, as well as through modeling activities. Terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) have become an integral tool for extrapolating local observations and understanding to much larger terrestrial regions. Although models vary in their specific goals and approaches, their central role within carbon cycle science is to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms currently controlling carbon exchange. Recently, the North American Carbon Program (NACP) organized several interim-synthesis activities to evaluate and inter-compare models and observations at local to continental scales for the years 2000more » to 2005. Here, we compare the results from the TBMs collected as part of the regional and continental interim-synthesis (RCIS) activities. The primary objective of this work is to synthesize and compare the 19 participating TBMs to assess current understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle in North America.« less