Comparing Tropical Forest Projections from Two Generations of Hadley Centre Earth System Models, HadGEM2-ES and HadCM3LC

Peter Good Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Chris Jones Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Jason Lowe Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Richard Betts Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Nicola Gedney Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Abstract

Future changes in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and associated influences on climate could affect the future sustainability of tropical forests. The authors report on tropical forest projections from the new Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model version 2 Earth System configuration (HadGEM2-ES) and compare them to results from the previous generation model [third climate configuration of the Met Office Unified Model in lower resolution with carbon cycle (HadCM3LC)], which had projected near-complete dieback of the Amazon rain forest for a business as usual scenario. In contrast, HadGEM2-ES projects minimal change in Amazon forest extent. The main aim of this study is a preliminary investigation of this difference between the two models. It is found that around 40% of the difference in forest dieback projections is associated with differences in the projected change in dry-season length. Differences in control climatologies of temperature and dry-season length, projected regional warming, and the forest response to climate and CO2 also all contribute to the increased survival of forest in HadGEM2-ES. However, HadGEM2-ES does not invalidate HadCM3LC: Amazon dieback remains a possible scenario of dangerous change that requires further understanding. The authors discuss the relevance to assessments of dieback risk and future work toward narrowing uncertainty about the fate of the Amazon forest.

Corresponding author address: Peter Good, Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter EX1 3PB, United Kingdom. E-mail: peter.good@metoffice.gov.uk

Abstract

Future changes in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and associated influences on climate could affect the future sustainability of tropical forests. The authors report on tropical forest projections from the new Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model version 2 Earth System configuration (HadGEM2-ES) and compare them to results from the previous generation model [third climate configuration of the Met Office Unified Model in lower resolution with carbon cycle (HadCM3LC)], which had projected near-complete dieback of the Amazon rain forest for a business as usual scenario. In contrast, HadGEM2-ES projects minimal change in Amazon forest extent. The main aim of this study is a preliminary investigation of this difference between the two models. It is found that around 40% of the difference in forest dieback projections is associated with differences in the projected change in dry-season length. Differences in control climatologies of temperature and dry-season length, projected regional warming, and the forest response to climate and CO2 also all contribute to the increased survival of forest in HadGEM2-ES. However, HadGEM2-ES does not invalidate HadCM3LC: Amazon dieback remains a possible scenario of dangerous change that requires further understanding. The authors discuss the relevance to assessments of dieback risk and future work toward narrowing uncertainty about the fate of the Amazon forest.

Corresponding author address: Peter Good, Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter EX1 3PB, United Kingdom. E-mail: peter.good@metoffice.gov.uk
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