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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Alan J. Hewitt, Ben B. B. Booth, Chris D. Jones, Eddy S. Robertson, Andy J. Wiltshire, Philip G. Sansom, David B. Stephenson, and Stan Yip

Abstract

The inclusion of carbon cycle processes within CMIP5 Earth system models provides the opportunity to explore the relative importance of differences in scenario and climate model representation to future land and ocean carbon fluxes. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) approach was used to quantify the variability owing to differences between scenarios and between climate models at different lead times. For global ocean carbon fluxes, the variance attributed to differences between representative concentration pathway scenarios exceeds the variance attributed to differences between climate models by around 2025, completely dominating by 2100. This contrasts with global land carbon fluxes, where the variance attributed to differences between climate models continues to dominate beyond 2100. This suggests that modeled processes that determine ocean fluxes are currently better constrained than those of land fluxes; thus, one can be more confident in linking different future socioeconomic pathways to consequences of ocean carbon uptake than for land carbon uptake. The contribution of internal variance is negligible for ocean fluxes and small for land fluxes, indicating that there is little dependence on the initial conditions. The apparent agreement in atmosphere–ocean carbon fluxes, globally, masks strong climate model differences at a regional level. The North Atlantic and Southern Ocean are key regions, where differences in modeled processes represent an important source of variability in projected regional fluxes.

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Lifen Jiang, Yaner Yan, Oleksandra Hararuk, Nathaniel Mikle, Jianyang Xia, Zheng Shi, Jerry Tjiputra, Tongwen Wu, and Yiqi Luo

Abstract

Model intercomparisons and evaluations against observations are essential for better understanding of models’ performance and for identifying the sources of uncertainty in their output. The terrestrial vegetation carbon simulated by 11 Earth system models (ESMs) involved in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) was evaluated in this study. The simulated vegetation carbon was compared at three distinct spatial scales (grid, biome, and global) among models and against the observations (an updated database from Olson et al.’s “Major World Ecosystem Complexes Ranked by Carbon in Live Vegetation: A Database”). Moreover, the underlying causes of the differences in the models’ predictions were explored. Model–data fit at the grid scale was poor but greatly improved at the biome scale. Large intermodel variability was pronounced in the tropical and boreal regions, where total vegetation carbon stocks were high. While 8 out of 11 ESMs reproduced the global vegetation carbon to within 20% uncertainty of the observational estimate (560 ± 112 Pg C), the simulated global totals varied nearly threefold between the models. The goodness of fit of ESMs in simulating vegetation carbon depended strongly on the spatial scales. Sixty-three percent of the variability in contemporary global vegetation carbon stocks across ESMs could be explained by differences in vegetation carbon residence time across ESMs (P < 0.01). The analysis indicated that ESMs’ performance of vegetation carbon predictions can be substantially improved through better representation of plant longevity (i.e., carbon residence time) and its respective spatial distributions.

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Jörg Schwinger, Jerry F. Tjiputra, Christoph Heinze, Laurent Bopp, James R. Christian, Marion Gehlen, Tatiana Ilyina, Chris D. Jones, David Salas-Mélia, Joachim Segschneider, Roland Séférian, and Ian Totterdell

Abstract

Carbon cycle feedbacks are usually categorized into carbon–concentration and carbon–climate feedbacks, which arise owing to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration and changing physical climate. Both feedbacks are often assumed to operate independently: that is, the total feedback can be expressed as the sum of two independent carbon fluxes that are functions of atmospheric CO2 and climate change, respectively. For phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), radiatively and biogeochemically coupled simulations have been undertaken to better understand carbon cycle feedback processes. Results show that the sum of total ocean carbon uptake in the radiatively and biogeochemically coupled experiments is consistently larger by 19–58 petagrams of carbon (Pg C) than the uptake found in the fully coupled model runs. This nonlinearity is small compared to the total ocean carbon uptake (533–676 Pg C), but it is of the same order as the carbon–climate feedback. The weakening of ocean circulation and mixing with climate change makes the largest contribution to the nonlinear carbon cycle response since carbon transport to depth is suppressed in the fully relative to the biogeochemically coupled simulations, while the radiatively coupled experiment mainly measures the loss of near-surface carbon owing to warming of the ocean. Sea ice retreat and seawater carbon chemistry contribute less to the simulated nonlinearity. The authors’ results indicate that estimates of the ocean carbon–climate feedback derived from “warming only” (radiatively coupled) simulations may underestimate the reduction of ocean carbon uptake in a warm climate high CO2 world.

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Pierre Friedlingstein, Malte Meinshausen, Vivek K. Arora, Chris D. Jones, Alessandro Anav, Spencer K. Liddicoat, and Reto Knutti

Abstract

In the context of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, most climate simulations use prescribed atmospheric CO2 concentration and therefore do not interactively include the effect of carbon cycle feedbacks. However, the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario has additionally been run by earth system models with prescribed CO2 emissions. This paper analyzes the climate projections of 11 earth system models (ESMs) that performed both emission-driven and concentration-driven RCP8.5 simulations. When forced by RCP8.5 CO2 emissions, models simulate a large spread in atmospheric CO2; the simulated 2100 concentrations range between 795 and 1145 ppm. Seven out of the 11 ESMs simulate a larger CO2 (on average by 44 ppm, 985 ± 97 ppm by 2100) and hence higher radiative forcing (by 0.25 W m−2) when driven by CO2 emissions than for the concentration-driven scenarios (941 ppm). However, most of these models already overestimate the present-day CO2, with the present-day biases reasonably well correlated with future atmospheric concentrations’ departure from the prescribed concentration. The uncertainty in CO2 projections is mainly attributable to uncertainties in the response of the land carbon cycle. As a result of simulated higher CO2 concentrations than in the concentration-driven simulations, temperature projections are generally higher when ESMs are driven with CO2 emissions. Global surface temperature change by 2100 (relative to present day) increased by 3.9° ± 0.9°C for the emission-driven simulations compared to 3.7° ± 0.7°C in the concentration-driven simulations. Although the lower ends are comparable in both sets of simulations, the highest climate projections are significantly warmer in the emission-driven simulations because of stronger carbon cycle feedbacks.

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ChuanLi Jiang, Sarah T. Gille, Janet Sprintall, and Colm Sweeney

Abstract

Surface water partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) variations in Drake Passage are examined using decade-long underway shipboard measurements. North of the Polar Front (PF), the observed pCO2 shows a seasonal cycle that peaks annually in August and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC)–forced variations are significant. Just south of the PF, pCO2 shows a small seasonal cycle that peaks annually in February, reflecting the opposing effects of changes in SST and DIC in the surface waters. At the PF, the wintertime pCO2 is nearly in equilibrium with the atmosphere, leading to a small sea-to-air CO2 flux.

These observations are used to evaluate eight available Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, phase 5 (CMIP5), Earth system models (ESMs). Six ESMs reproduce the observed annual-mean pCO2 values averaged over the Drake Passage region. However, the model amplitude of the pCO2 seasonal cycle exceeds the observed amplitude of the pCO2 seasonal cycle because of the model biases in SST and surface DIC. North of the PF, deep winter mixed layers play a larger role in pCO2 variations in the models than they do in observations. Four ESMs show elevated wintertime pCO2 near the PF, causing a significant sea-to-air CO2 flux. Wintertime winds in these models are generally stronger than the satellite-derived winds. This not only magnifies the sea-to-air CO2 flux but also upwells DIC-rich water to the surface and drives strong equatorward Ekman currents. These strong model currents likely advect the upwelled DIC farther equatorward, as strong stratification in the models precludes subduction below the mixed layer.

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Pu Shao, Xubin Zeng, Koichi Sakaguchi, Russell K. Monson, and Xiaodong Zeng

Abstract

Eight Earth System Models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) are evaluated, focusing on both the net carbon dioxide flux and its components and their relation with climatic variables (temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture) in the historical (1850–2005) and representative concentration pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5; 2006–2100) simulations. While model results differ, their median globally averaged production and respiration terms from 1976 to 2005 agree reasonably with available observation-based products. Disturbances such as land use change are roughly represented but crucial in determining whether the land is a carbon source or sink over many regions in both simulations. While carbon fluxes vary with latitude and between the two simulations, the ratio of net to gross primary production, representing the ecosystem carbon use efficiency, is less dependent on latitude and does not differ significantly in the historical and RCP4.5 simulations. The linear trend of increased land carbon fluxes (except net ecosystem production) is accelerated in the twenty-first century. The cumulative net ecosystem production by 2100 is positive (i.e., carbon sink) in all models and the tropical and boreal latitudes become major carbon sinks in most models. The temporal correlations between annual-mean carbon cycle and climate variables vary substantially (including the change of sign) among the eight models in both the historical and twenty-first-century simulations. The ranges of correlations of carbon cycle variables with precipitation and soil moisture are also quite different, reflecting the important impact of the model treatment of the hydrological cycle on the carbon cycle.

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Nathan P. Gillett, Vivek K. Arora, Damon Matthews, and Myles R. Allen

Abstract

The ratio of warming to cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide has been shown to be approximately independent of time and emissions scenarios and directly relates emissions to temperature. It is therefore a potentially important tool for climate mitigation policy. The transient climate response to cumulative carbon emissions (TCRE), defined as the ratio of global-mean warming to cumulative emissions at CO2 doubling in a 1% yr−1 CO2 increase experiment, ranges from 0.8 to 2.4 K EgC−1 in 15 models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5)—a somewhat broader range than that found in a previous generation of carbon–climate models. Using newly available simulations and a new observational temperature dataset to 2010, TCRE is estimated from observations by dividing an observationally constrained estimate of CO2-attributable warming by an estimate of cumulative carbon emissions to date, yielding an observationally constrained 5%–95% range of 0.7–2.0 K EgC−1.

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V. Brovkin, L. Boysen, V. K. Arora, J. P. Boisier, P. Cadule, L. Chini, M. Claussen, P. Friedlingstein, V. Gayler, B. J. J. M. van den Hurk, G. C. Hurtt, C. D. Jones, E. Kato, N. de Noblet-Ducoudré, F. Pacifico, J. Pongratz, and M. Weiss

Abstract

The effects of land-use changes on climate are assessed using specified-concentration simulations complementary to the representative concentration pathway 2.6 (RCP2.6) and RCP8.5 scenarios performed for phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). This analysis focuses on differences in climate and land–atmosphere fluxes between the ensemble averages of simulations with and without land-use changes by the end of the twenty-first century. Even though common land-use scenarios are used, the areas of crops and pastures are specific for each Earth system model (ESM). This is due to different interpretations of land-use classes. The analysis reveals that fossil fuel forcing dominates land-use forcing. In addition, the effects of land-use changes are globally not significant, whereas they are significant for regions with land-use changes exceeding 10%. For these regions, three out of six participating models—the Second Generation Canadian Earth System Model (CanESM2); Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model, version 2 (Earth System) (HadGEM2-ES); and Model for Interdisciplinary Research on Climate, Earth System Model (MIROC-ESM)—reveal statistically significant changes in mean annual surface air temperature. In addition, changes in land surface albedo, available energy, and latent heat fluxes are small but significant for most ESMs in regions affected by land-use changes. These climatic effects are relatively small, as land-use changes in the RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 scenarios are small in magnitude and mainly limited to tropical and subtropical regions. The relative importance of the climatic effects of land-use changes is higher for the RCP2.6 scenario, which considers an expansion of biofuel croplands as a climate mitigation option. The underlying similarity among all models is the loss in global land carbon storage due to land-use changes.

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A. Anav, P. Friedlingstein, M. Kidston, L. Bopp, P. Ciais, P. Cox, C. Jones, M. Jung, R. Myneni, and Z. Zhu

Abstract

The authors assess the ability of 18 Earth system models to simulate the land and ocean carbon cycle for the present climate. These models will be used in the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) for climate projections, and such evaluation allows identification of the strengths and weaknesses of individual coupled carbon–climate models as well as identification of systematic biases of the models. Results show that models correctly reproduce the main climatic variables controlling the spatial and temporal characteristics of the carbon cycle. The seasonal evolution of the variables under examination is well captured. However, weaknesses appear when reproducing specific fields: in particular, considering the land carbon cycle, a general overestimation of photosynthesis and leaf area index is found for most of the models, while the ocean evaluation shows that quite a few models underestimate the primary production.The authors also propose climate and carbon cycle performance metrics in order to assess whether there is a set of consistently better models for reproducing the carbon cycle. Averaged seasonal cycles and probability density functions (PDFs) calculated from model simulations are compared with the corresponding seasonal cycles and PDFs from different observed datasets. Although the metrics used in this study allow identification of some models as better or worse than the average, the ranking of this study is partially subjective because of the choice of the variables under examination and also can be sensitive to the choice of reference data. In addition, it was found that the model performances show significant regional variations.

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Vivek K. Arora, George J. Boer, Pierre Friedlingstein, Michael Eby, Chris D. Jones, James R. Christian, Gordon Bonan, Laurent Bopp, Victor Brovkin, Patricia Cadule, Tomohiro Hajima, Tatiana Ilyina, Keith Lindsay, Jerry F. Tjiputra, and Tongwen Wu

Abstract

The magnitude and evolution of parameters that characterize feedbacks in the coupled carbon–climate system are compared across nine Earth system models (ESMs). The analysis is based on results from biogeochemically, radiatively, and fully coupled simulations in which CO2 increases at a rate of 1% yr−1. These simulations are part of phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). The CO2 fluxes between the atmosphere and underlying land and ocean respond to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration and to changes in temperature and other climate variables. The carbon–concentration and carbon–climate feedback parameters characterize the response of the CO2 flux between the atmosphere and the underlying surface to these changes. Feedback parameters are calculated using two different approaches. The two approaches are equivalent and either may be used to calculate the contribution of the feedback terms to diagnosed cumulative emissions. The contribution of carbon–concentration feedback to diagnosed cumulative emissions that are consistent with the 1% increasing CO2 concentration scenario is about 4.5 times larger than the carbon–climate feedback. Differences in the modeled responses of the carbon budget to changes in CO2 and temperature are seen to be 3–4 times larger for the land components compared to the ocean components of participating models. The feedback parameters depend on the state of the system as well the forcing scenario but nevertheless provide insight into the behavior of the coupled carbon–climate system and a useful common framework for comparing models.

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