Greenhouse Gas Policy Influences Climate via Direct Effects of Land-Use Change

Andrew D. Jones * Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California

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William D. Collins * Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California

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James Edmonds Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland

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Margaret S. Torn * Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California

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Anthony Janetos Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland

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Katherine V. Calvin Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland

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Allison Thomson Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland

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Louise P. Chini University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

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Jiafu Mao Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

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Xiaoying Shi Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

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Peter Thornton Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

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George C. Hurtt University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland

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Marshall Wise Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland

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Abstract

Proposed climate mitigation measures do not account for direct biophysical climate impacts of land-use change (LUC), nor do the stabilization targets modeled for phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) representative concentration pathways (RCPs). To examine the significance of such effects on global and regional patterns of climate change, a baseline and an alternative scenario of future anthropogenic activity are simulated within the Integrated Earth System Model, which couples the Global Change Assessment Model, Global Land-Use Model, and Community Earth System Model. The alternative scenario has high biofuel utilization and approximately 50% less global forest cover than the baseline, standard RCP4.5 scenario. Both scenarios stabilize radiative forcing from atmospheric constituents at 4.5 W m−2 by 2100. Thus, differences between their climate predictions quantify the biophysical effects of LUC. Offline radiative transfer and land model simulations are also utilized to identify forcing and feedback mechanisms driving the coupled response. Boreal deforestation is found to strongly influence climate because of increased albedo coupled with a regional-scale water vapor feedback. Globally, the alternative scenario yields a twenty-first-century warming trend that is 0.5°C cooler than baseline, driven by a 1 W m−2 mean decrease in radiative forcing that is distributed unevenly around the globe. Some regions are cooler in the alternative scenario than in 2005. These results demonstrate that neither climate change nor actual radiative forcing is uniquely related to atmospheric forcing targets such as those found in the RCPs but rather depend on particulars of the socioeconomic pathways followed to meet each target.

Corresponding author address: Andrew D. Jones, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Rd., MS 74-0171, Berkeley, CA 94720. E-mail: adjones@lbl.gov

Abstract

Proposed climate mitigation measures do not account for direct biophysical climate impacts of land-use change (LUC), nor do the stabilization targets modeled for phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) representative concentration pathways (RCPs). To examine the significance of such effects on global and regional patterns of climate change, a baseline and an alternative scenario of future anthropogenic activity are simulated within the Integrated Earth System Model, which couples the Global Change Assessment Model, Global Land-Use Model, and Community Earth System Model. The alternative scenario has high biofuel utilization and approximately 50% less global forest cover than the baseline, standard RCP4.5 scenario. Both scenarios stabilize radiative forcing from atmospheric constituents at 4.5 W m−2 by 2100. Thus, differences between their climate predictions quantify the biophysical effects of LUC. Offline radiative transfer and land model simulations are also utilized to identify forcing and feedback mechanisms driving the coupled response. Boreal deforestation is found to strongly influence climate because of increased albedo coupled with a regional-scale water vapor feedback. Globally, the alternative scenario yields a twenty-first-century warming trend that is 0.5°C cooler than baseline, driven by a 1 W m−2 mean decrease in radiative forcing that is distributed unevenly around the globe. Some regions are cooler in the alternative scenario than in 2005. These results demonstrate that neither climate change nor actual radiative forcing is uniquely related to atmospheric forcing targets such as those found in the RCPs but rather depend on particulars of the socioeconomic pathways followed to meet each target.

Corresponding author address: Andrew D. Jones, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Rd., MS 74-0171, Berkeley, CA 94720. E-mail: adjones@lbl.gov
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