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Michael Notaro
,
Zhengyu Liu
,
Robert Gallimore
,
Stephen J. Vavrus
,
John E. Kutzbach
,
I. Colin Prentice
, and
Robert L. Jacob

Abstract

Rising levels of carbon dioxide since the preindustrial era have likely contributed to an observed warming of the global surface, and observations show global greening and an expansion of boreal forests. This study reproduces observed climate and vegetation trends associated with rising CO2 using a fully coupled atmosphere–ocean–land surface GCM with dynamic vegetation and decomposes the effects into physiological and radiative components. The simulated warming trend, strongest at high latitudes, was dominated by the radiative effect, although the physiological effect of CO2 on vegetation (CO2 fertilization) contributed to significant wintertime warming over northern Europe and central and eastern Asia. The net global greening of the model was primarily due to the physiological effect of increasing CO2, while the radiative and physiological effects combined to produce a poleward expansion of the boreal forests. Observed and simulated trends in tree ring width are consistent with the enhancement of vegetation growth by the physiological effect of rising CO2.

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Sarah J. Doherty
,
Stephan Bojinski
,
Ann Henderson-Sellers
,
Kevin Noone
,
David Goodrich
,
Nathaniel L. Bindoff
,
John A. Church
,
Kathy A. Hibbard
,
Thomas R. Karl
,
Lucka Kajfez-Bogataj
,
Amanda H. Lynch
,
David E. Parker
,
I. Colin Prentice
,
Venkatachalam Ramaswamy
,
Roger W. Saunders
,
Mark Stafford Smith
,
Konrad Steffen
,
Thomas F. Stocker
,
Peter W. Thorne
,
Kevin E. Trenberth
,
Michel M. Verstraete
, and
Francis W. Zwiers

The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that global warming is “unequivocal” and that most of the observed increase since the mid-twentieth century is very likely due to the increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, with discernible human influences on ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes, wind patterns, and other physical and biological indicators, impacting both socioeconomic and ecological systems. It is now clear that we are committed to some level of global climate change, and it is imperative that this be considered when planning future climate research and observational strategies. The Global Climate Observing System program (GCOS), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) therefore initiated a process to summarize the lessons learned through AR4 Working Groups I and II and to identify a set of high-priority modeling and observational needs. Two classes of recommendations emerged. First is the need to improve climate models, observational and climate monitoring systems, and our understanding of key processes. Second, the framework for climate research and observations must be extended to document impacts and to guide adaptation and mitigation efforts. Research and observational strategies specifically aimed at improving our ability to predict and understand impacts, adaptive capacity, and societal and ecosystem vulnerabilities will serve both purposes and are the subject of the specific recommendations made in this paper.

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