C4MIP

Description:

The special collection on "Climate—Carbon Interactions in the CMIP5 Earth System Models" (C4MIP) includes a series of papers which analyze results from Earth System Model (ESM) simulations performed for the fifth Coupled Modeling Intercomparison Project (CMIP5; Taylor et al., 2011), with a specific focus on the global carbon cycle. These simulations are also contributing to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). State-of-the-art ESMs represent global land and ocean carbon cycle-related biogeochemical processes and their interactions with the physical climate system.

The CMIP5 protocol includes historical and future simulations driven with representative concentration pathways (RCPs) of greenhouse gases. For each of the greenhouse gas RCPs, the corresponding emissions are also available. The CMIP5 protocol includes ESM simulations that are driven with either prescribed CO2 concentration or CO2 emissions. It also includes the idealized specified concentration scenario, in which the atmospheric CO2 increases at a rate of 1% per year.

The papers in this special collection include multi-model analyses for historical and future RCP scenarios, focusing on carbon cycle response to climate change, compatible emissions, feedback analysis, process-oriented model evaluation, more specific analysis such as the response of permafrost to future climate change, and the impact of land use change on terrestrial carbon cycle processes.

Collection organizers:
Pierre Friedlingstein, University of Exeter
Chris Jones, UK Met Office
Vivek Arora, Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis

C4MIP

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Eleanor J. Burke, Chris D. Jones, and Charles D. Koven

Abstract

Under climate change, thawing permafrost may cause a release of carbon, which has a positive feedback on the climate. The permafrost-carbon climate response (γPF) is the additional permafrost-carbon made vulnerable to decomposition per degree of global temperature increase. A simple framework was adopted to estimate γPF using the database for phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). The projected changes in the annual maximum active layer thicknesses (ALTmax) over the twenty-first century were quantified using CMIP5 soil temperatures. These changes were combined with the observed distribution of soil organic carbon and its potential decomposability to give γPF. This estimate of γPF is dependent on the biases in the simulated present-day permafrost. This dependency was reduced by combining a reference estimate of the present-day ALTmax with an estimate of the sensitivity of ALTmax to temperature from the CMIP5 models. In this case, γPF was from −6 to −66 PgC K−1(5th–95th percentile) with a radiative forcing of 0.03–0.29 W m−2 K−1. This range is mainly caused by uncertainties in the amount of soil carbon deeper in the soil profile and whether it thaws over the time scales under consideration. These results suggest that including permafrost-carbon within climate models will lead to an increase in the positive global carbon climate feedback. Under future climate change the northern high-latitude permafrost region is expected to be a small sink of carbon. Adding the permafrost-carbon response is likely to change this region to a source of carbon.

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Spencer Liddicoat, Chris Jones, and Eddy Robertson

Abstract

This paper presents the fossil fuel–derived CO2 emissions simulated by the Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model, version 2, Earth System (HadGEM2-ES) to be compatible with four representative concentration pathways (RCPs) from 2006 to 2100. For three of the four RCPs, the analysis is extended to 2300. The compatible emissions compare well with those generated by integrated assessment models from which the RCPs were constructed. Historical compatible emissions are also presented, which closely match observation-based estimates from 1860 to 2005 (cumulatively 330 and 319 GtC, respectively). Simulated land and ocean carbon uptake, which determines the compatible emissions, is examined, with an emphasis on changes in vegetation carbon. In addition, historical land and ocean carbon uptake is compared with observations. The influences of climate change and the carbon cycle on compatible emissions are investigated individually through two additional experiments in which either aspect is decoupled from the CO2 pathway. Exposure of the biogeochemical components of the Earth system to increasing CO2 is found to be responsible for 68% of the compatible emissions of the fully coupled simulation, while increased radiative forcing from the CO2 pathway reduces its compatible emissions by 11%. The importance of dynamic vegetation to compatible emissions is investigated and discussed. Two different methods of determining emissions from land use and land-use change are compared; differencing the land–atmosphere CO2 exchange of two experiments, one with fixed land use and the other variable, results in historical land-use emissions within the uncertainty range of observed estimates, while those simulated directly by the model are well below the lower limit of the observations.

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Chris Jones, Eddy Robertson, Vivek Arora, Pierre Friedlingstein, Elena Shevliakova, Laurent Bopp, Victor Brovkin, Tomohiro Hajima, Etsushi Kato, Michio Kawamiya, Spencer Liddicoat, Keith Lindsay, Christian H. Reick, Caroline Roelandt, Joachim Segschneider, and Jerry Tjiputra

Abstract

The carbon cycle is a crucial Earth system component affecting climate and atmospheric composition. The response of natural carbon uptake to CO2 and climate change will determine anthropogenic emissions compatible with a target CO2 pathway. For phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), four future representative concentration pathways (RCPs) have been generated by integrated assessment models (IAMs) and used as scenarios by state-of-the-art climate models, enabling quantification of compatible carbon emissions for the four scenarios by complex, process-based models. Here, the authors present results from 15 such Earth system GCMs for future changes in land and ocean carbon storage and the implications for anthropogenic emissions. The results are consistent with the underlying scenarios but show substantial model spread. Uncertainty in land carbon uptake due to differences among models is comparable with the spread across scenarios. Model estimates of historical fossil-fuel emissions agree well with reconstructions, and future projections for representative concentration pathway 2.6 (RCP2.6) and RCP4.5 are consistent with the IAMs. For high-end scenarios (RCP6.0 and RCP8.5), GCMs simulate smaller compatible emissions than the IAMs, indicating a larger climate–carbon cycle feedback in the GCMs in these scenarios. For the RCP2.6 mitigation scenario, an average reduction of 50% in emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels is required but with very large model spread (14%–96%). The models also disagree on both the requirement for sustained negative emissions to achieve the RCP2.6 CO2 concentration and the success of this scenario to restrict global warming below 2°C. All models agree that the future airborne fraction depends strongly on the emissions profile with higher airborne fraction for higher emissions scenarios.

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G. J. Boer and V. K. Arora

Abstract

Emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere affect the carbon budgets of the land and ocean as biogeochemical processes react to increased CO2 concentrations. Biogeochemical processes also react to changes in temperature and other climate parameters. This behavior is characterized in terms of carbon–concentration and carbon–climate feedback parameters. The results of this study include 1) the extension of the direct carbon feedback formalism of Boer and Arora to include results from radiatively coupled simulations, as well as those from the biogeochemically coupled and fully coupled simulations used in earlier analyses; 2) a brief analysis of the relationship between this formalism and the integrated feedback formalism of Friedlingstein et al.; 3) the feedback analysis of simulations based on each of the representative concentration pathways (RCPs) RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5; 4) a comparison of the effects of specifying atmospheric CO2 concentrations or CO2 emissions; and 5) the quantification of the relative importance of the two feedback mechanisms in terms of their cumulative contribution to the change in atmospheric CO2.

Feedback results are broadly in agreement with earlier studies in that carbon–concentration feedback is negative for the atmosphere and carbon–climate feedback is positive. However, the magnitude and evolution of feedback behavior depends on the formalism employed, the scenario considered, and the specification of CO2 from emissions or as atmospheric concentrations. Both feedback parameters can differ by factors of two or more, depending on the scenario and on the specification of CO2 emissions or concentrations. While feedback results are qualitatively useful and illustrative of carbon budget behavior, they apply quantitatively to particular scenarios and cases.

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Charles D. Koven, William J. Riley, and Alex Stern

Abstract

The authors analyze global climate model predictions of soil temperature [from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) database] to assess the models’ representation of current-climate soil thermal dynamics and their predictions of permafrost thaw during the twenty-first century. The authors compare the models’ predictions with observations of active layer thickness, air temperature, and soil temperature and with theoretically expected relationships between active layer thickness and air temperature annual mean- and seasonal-cycle amplitude. Models show a wide range of current permafrost areas, active layer statistics (cumulative distributions, correlations with mean annual air temperature, and amplitude of seasonal air temperature cycle), and ability to accurately model the coupling between soil and air temperatures at high latitudes. Many of the between-model differences can be traced to differences in the coupling between either near-surface air and shallow soil temperatures or shallow and deeper (1 m) soil temperatures, which in turn reflect differences in snow physics and soil hydrology. The models are compared with observational datasets to benchmark several aspects of the permafrost-relevant physics of the models. The CMIP5 models following multiple representative concentration pathways (RCP) show a wide range of predictions for permafrost loss: 2%–66% for RCP2.6, 15%–87% for RCP4.5, and 30%–99% for RCP8.5. Normalizing the amount of permafrost loss by the amount of high-latitude warming in the RCP4.5 scenario, the models predict an absolute loss of 1.6 ± 0.7 million km2 permafrost per 1°C high-latitude warming, or a fractional loss of 6%–29% °C−1.

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