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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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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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