skip to main content

Title: From land use to land cover: Restoring the afforestation signal in a coupled integrated assessment - earth system model and the implications for CMIP5 RCP simulations

Climate projections depend on scenarios of fossil fuel emissions and land use change, and the IPCC AR5 parallel process assumes consistent climate scenarios across Integrated Assessment and Earth System Models (IAMs and ESMs). To facilitate consistency, CMIP5 used a novel land use harmonization to provide ESMs with seamless, 1500-2100 land use trajectories generated by historical data and four IAMs. However, we have identified and partially addressed a major gap in the CMIP5 land coupling design. The CMIP5 Community ESM (CESM) global afforestation is only 22% of RCP4.5 afforestation from 2005 to 2100. Likewise, only 17% of the Global Change Assessment Model’s (GCAM’s) 2040 RCP4.5 afforestation signal, and none of the pasture loss, were transmitted to CESM within a newly integrated model. This is a critical problem because afforestation is necessary for achieving the RCP4.5 climate stabilization. We attempted to rectify this problem by modifying only the ESM component of the integrated model, enabling CESM to simulate 66% of GCAM’s afforestation in 2040, and 94% of GCAM’s pasture loss as grassland and shrubland losses. This additional afforestation increases vegetation carbon gain by 19 PgC and decreases atmospheric CO2 gain by 8 ppmv from 2005 to 2040, implying different climate scenarios betweenmore » CMIP5 GCAM and CESM. Similar inconsistencies likely exist in other CMIP5 model results, primarily because land cover information is not shared between models, with possible contributions from afforestation exceeding model-specific, potentially viable forest area. Further work to harmonize land cover among models will be required to adequately rectify this problem.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [4] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [4] ;  [3]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States)
  3. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  4. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1726-4170; KP1703020
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Biogeosciences; Journal Volume: 11; Journal Issue: 23
European Geosciences Union
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES earth system modeling; climate change; land use