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Title: Uncertainty in the response of terrestrial carbon sink to environmental drivers undermines carbon-climate feedback predictions

Abstract

Terrestrial ecosystems play a vital role in regulating the accumulation of carbon (C) in the atmosphere. Understanding the factors controlling land C uptake is critical for reducing uncertainties in projections of future climate. The relative importance of changing climate, rising atmospheric CO 2, and other factors, however, remains unclear despite decades of research. Here, we use an ensemble of land models to show that models disagree on the primary driver of cumulative C uptake for 85% of vegetated land area. Disagreement is largest in model sensitivity to rising atmospheric CO 2 which shows almost twice the variability in cumulative land uptake since 1901 (1 s.d. of 212.8 PgC vs. 138.5 PgC, respectively). We find that variability in CO 2 and temperature sensitivity is attributable, in part, to their compensatory effects on C uptake, whereby comparable estimates of C uptake can arise by invoking different sensitivities to key environmental conditions. Conversely, divergent estimates of C uptake can occur despite being based on the same environmental sensitivities. Together, these findings imply an important limitation to the predictability of C cycling and climate under unprecedented environmental conditions. We suggest that the carbon modeling community prioritize a probabilistic multi-model approach to generate more robustmore » C cycle projections.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [2];  [6]; ORCiD logo [5];  [5];  [7];  [8]; ORCiD logo [9];  [10];  [11]; ORCiD logo [12];  [13];  [4]; ORCiD logo [5];  [7];  [4] more »; ORCiD logo [14]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [5];  [15];  [16]; ORCiD logo [17];  [17] « less
  1. Northern Arizona Univ., Flagstaff, AZ (United States). School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability
  2. Carnegie Inst. for Science, Stanford, CA (United States). Dept. of Global Ecology
  3. Northern Arizona Univ., Flagstaff, AZ (United States). School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability; Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA (United States)
  4. Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Gif-sur-Yvette (France). Inst. Pierre Simon Laplace. Climate and Environment Sciences Lab. (IPSL-LSCE)
  5. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Environmental Sciences Division. Climate Change Science Inst.
  6. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States). National Snow and Ice Data Center. Cooperative Inst. for Research in Environmental Sciences
  7. California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), Pasadena, CA (United States). Jet Propulsion Lab.
  8. Univ. of Maine, Orono, ME (United States). School of Forest Resources
  9. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States). Atmospheric and Global Change Division
  10. National Inst. for Environmental Studies (NIES), Tsukuba (Japan)
  11. Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL (United States)
  12. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States). Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division; Tsinghua Univ., Beijing (China). State Key Lab. of Hydroscience and Engineering. Dept. of Hydraulic Engineering
  13. Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA (United States). Dept. of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
  14. Montana State Univ., Bozeman, MT (United States). Dept. of Ecology
  15. Auburn Univ., AL (United States). International Center for Climate and Global Change Research. School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
  16. NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, Mountain View, CA (United States)
  17. Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States). Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Northern Arizona Univ., Flagstaff, AZ (United States); Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), Moffett Field, Mountain View, CA (United States); California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), Pasadena, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1394481
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1468064
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725; NNX10AG01A; NNH10AN681
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; carbon cycle

Citation Formats

Huntzinger, D. N., Michalak, A. M., Schwalm, C., Ciais, P., King, A. W., Fang, Y., Schaefer, K., Wei, Y., Cook, R. B., Fisher, J. B., Hayes, D., Huang, M., Ito, A., Jain, A. K., Lei, H., Lu, C., Maignan, F., Mao, J., Parazoo, N., Peng, S., Poulter, B., Ricciuto, Daniel M., Shi, X., Tian, H., Wang, W., Zeng, N., and Zhao, F.. Uncertainty in the response of terrestrial carbon sink to environmental drivers undermines carbon-climate feedback predictions. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03818-2.
Huntzinger, D. N., Michalak, A. M., Schwalm, C., Ciais, P., King, A. W., Fang, Y., Schaefer, K., Wei, Y., Cook, R. B., Fisher, J. B., Hayes, D., Huang, M., Ito, A., Jain, A. K., Lei, H., Lu, C., Maignan, F., Mao, J., Parazoo, N., Peng, S., Poulter, B., Ricciuto, Daniel M., Shi, X., Tian, H., Wang, W., Zeng, N., & Zhao, F.. Uncertainty in the response of terrestrial carbon sink to environmental drivers undermines carbon-climate feedback predictions. United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03818-2.
Huntzinger, D. N., Michalak, A. M., Schwalm, C., Ciais, P., King, A. W., Fang, Y., Schaefer, K., Wei, Y., Cook, R. B., Fisher, J. B., Hayes, D., Huang, M., Ito, A., Jain, A. K., Lei, H., Lu, C., Maignan, F., Mao, J., Parazoo, N., Peng, S., Poulter, B., Ricciuto, Daniel M., Shi, X., Tian, H., Wang, W., Zeng, N., and Zhao, F.. Thu . "Uncertainty in the response of terrestrial carbon sink to environmental drivers undermines carbon-climate feedback predictions". United States. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03818-2. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1394481.
@article{osti_1394481,
title = {Uncertainty in the response of terrestrial carbon sink to environmental drivers undermines carbon-climate feedback predictions},
author = {Huntzinger, D. N. and Michalak, A. M. and Schwalm, C. and Ciais, P. and King, A. W. and Fang, Y. and Schaefer, K. and Wei, Y. and Cook, R. B. and Fisher, J. B. and Hayes, D. and Huang, M. and Ito, A. and Jain, A. K. and Lei, H. and Lu, C. and Maignan, F. and Mao, J. and Parazoo, N. and Peng, S. and Poulter, B. and Ricciuto, Daniel M. and Shi, X. and Tian, H. and Wang, W. and Zeng, N. and Zhao, F.},
abstractNote = {Terrestrial ecosystems play a vital role in regulating the accumulation of carbon (C) in the atmosphere. Understanding the factors controlling land C uptake is critical for reducing uncertainties in projections of future climate. The relative importance of changing climate, rising atmospheric CO2, and other factors, however, remains unclear despite decades of research. Here, we use an ensemble of land models to show that models disagree on the primary driver of cumulative C uptake for 85% of vegetated land area. Disagreement is largest in model sensitivity to rising atmospheric CO2 which shows almost twice the variability in cumulative land uptake since 1901 (1 s.d. of 212.8 PgC vs. 138.5 PgC, respectively). We find that variability in CO2 and temperature sensitivity is attributable, in part, to their compensatory effects on C uptake, whereby comparable estimates of C uptake can arise by invoking different sensitivities to key environmental conditions. Conversely, divergent estimates of C uptake can occur despite being based on the same environmental sensitivities. Together, these findings imply an important limitation to the predictability of C cycling and climate under unprecedented environmental conditions. We suggest that the carbon modeling community prioritize a probabilistic multi-model approach to generate more robust C cycle projections.},
doi = {10.1038/s41598-017-03818-2},
journal = {Scientific Reports},
number = ,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Jul 06 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Thu Jul 06 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

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