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Title: Strong dependence of CO 2 emissions from anthropogenic land cover change on initial land cover and soil carbon parametrization

The quantification of sources and sinks of carbon from land use and land cover changes (LULCC) is uncertain. We investigated how the parametrization of LULCC and of organic matter decomposition, as well as initial land cover, affects the historical and future carbon fluxes in an Earth System Model (ESM). Using the land component of the Max Planck Institute ESM, we found that the historical (1750–2010) LULCC flux varied up to 25% depending on the fraction of biomass which enters the atmosphere directly due to burning or is used in short-lived products. The uncertainty in the decadal LULCC fluxes of the recent past due to the parametrization of decomposition and direct emissions was 0.6 Pg C yr $-$1, which is 3 times larger than the uncertainty previously attributed to model and method in general. Preindustrial natural land cover had a larger effect on decadal LULCC fluxes than the aforementioned parameter sensitivity (1.0 Pg C yr $-$1). Regional differences between reconstructed and dynamically computed land covers, in particular, at low latitudes, led to differences in historical LULCC emissions of 84–114 Pg C, globally. This effect is larger than the effects of forest regrowth, shifting cultivation, or climate feedbacks and comparable to themore » effect of differences among studies in the terminology of LULCC. Finally, in general, we find that the practice of calibrating the net land carbon balance to provide realistic boundary conditions for the climate component of an ESM hampers the applicability of the land component outside its primary field of application.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [4] ; ORCiD logo [5]
  1. Max Planck Inst. for Meteorology, Hamburg (Germany); KlimaCampus, Hamburg (Germany); Lab. for Climate and Environmental Sciences (LSCE), Gif-sur-Yvette (France)
  2. Max Planck Inst. for Meteorology, Hamburg (Germany)
  3. Finnish Environment Inst. (SYKE), Helsinki (Finland)
  4. Finnish Meteorologica Inst., Helsinki (Finland)
  5. Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States). Dept. Microbiology and Plant Biology; Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States). Biological Sciences Division
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 29; Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 0886-6236
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; earth system model; land cover change; terrestrial carbon cycle; decomposition; land use
OSTI Identifier: