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P. C. D. Milly and Krista A. Dunne

Abstract

Hydrologic models often are applied to adjust projections of hydroclimatic change that come from climate models. Such adjustment includes climate-bias correction, spatial refinement (“downscaling”), and consideration of the roles of hydrologic processes that were neglected in the climate model. Described herein is a quantitative analysis of the effects of hydrologic adjustment on the projections of runoff change associated with projected twenty-first-century climate change. In a case study including three climate models and 10 river basins in the contiguous United States, the authors find that relative (i.e., fractional or percentage) runoff change computed with hydrologic adjustment more often than not was less positive (or, equivalently, more negative) than what was projected by the climate models. The dominant contributor to this decrease in runoff was a ubiquitous change in runoff (median −11%) caused by the hydrologic model’s apparent amplification of the climate-model-implied growth in potential evapotranspiration. Analysis suggests that the hydrologic model, on the basis of the empirical, temperature-based modified Jensen–Haise formula, calculates a change in potential evapotranspiration that is typically 3 times the change implied by the climate models, which explicitly track surface energy budgets. In comparison with the amplification of potential evapotranspiration, central tendencies of other contributions from hydrologic adjustment (spatial refinement, climate-bias adjustment, and process refinement) were relatively small. The authors’ findings highlight the need for caution when projecting changes in potential evapotranspiration for use in hydrologic models or drought indices to evaluate climate-change impacts on water.

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P. C. D. Milly, Sergey L. Malyshev, Elena Shevliakova, Krista A. Dunne, Kirsten L. Findell, Tom Gleeson, Zhi Liang, Peter Phillipps, Ronald J. Stouffer, and Sean Swenson

Abstract

LM3 is a new model of terrestrial water, energy, and carbon, intended for use in global hydrologic analyses and as a component of earth-system and physical-climate models. It is designed to improve upon the performance and to extend the scope of the predecessor Land Dynamics (LaD) and LM3V models by better quantifying the physical controls of climate and biogeochemistry and by relating more directly to components of the global water system that touch human concerns. LM3 includes multilayer representations of temperature, liquid water content, and ice content of both snowpack and macroporous soil–bedrock; topography-based description of saturated area and groundwater discharge; and transport of runoff to the ocean via a global river and lake network. Sensible heat transport by water mass is accounted throughout for a complete energy balance. Carbon and vegetation dynamics and biophysics are represented as in LM3V. In numerical experiments, LM3 avoids some of the limitations of the LaD model and provides qualitatively (though not always quantitatively) reasonable estimates, from a global perspective, of observed spatial and/or temporal variations of vegetation density, albedo, streamflow, water-table depth, permafrost, and lake levels. Amplitude and phase of annual cycle of total water storage are simulated well. Realism of modeled lake levels varies widely. The water table tends to be consistently too shallow in humid regions. Biophysical properties have an artificial stepwise spatial structure, and equilibrium vegetation is sensitive to initial conditions. Explicit resolution of thick (>100 m) unsaturated zones and permafrost is possible, but only at the cost of long (≫300 yr) model spinup times.

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John P. Dunne, Jasmin G. John, Elena Shevliakova, Ronald J. Stouffer, John P. Krasting, Sergey L. Malyshev, P. C. D. Milly, Lori T. Sentman, Alistair J. Adcroft, William Cooke, Krista A. Dunne, Stephen M. Griffies, Robert W. Hallberg, Matthew J. Harrison, Hiram Levy, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Peter J. Phillips, and Niki Zadeh

Abstract

The authors describe carbon system formulation and simulation characteristics of two new global coupled carbon–climate Earth System Models (ESM), ESM2M and ESM2G. These models demonstrate good climate fidelity as described in part I of this study while incorporating explicit and consistent carbon dynamics. The two models differ almost exclusively in the physical ocean component; ESM2M uses the Modular Ocean Model version 4.1 with vertical pressure layers, whereas ESM2G uses generalized ocean layer dynamics with a bulk mixed layer and interior isopycnal layers. On land, both ESMs include a revised land model to simulate competitive vegetation distributions and functioning, including carbon cycling among vegetation, soil, and atmosphere. In the ocean, both models include new biogeochemical algorithms including phytoplankton functional group dynamics with flexible stoichiometry. Preindustrial simulations are spun up to give stable, realistic carbon cycle means and variability. Significant differences in simulation characteristics of these two models are described. Because of differences in oceanic ventilation rates, ESM2M has a stronger biological carbon pump but weaker northward implied atmospheric CO2 transport than ESM2G. The major advantages of ESM2G over ESM2M are improved representation of surface chlorophyll in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and thermocline nutrients and oxygen in the North Pacific. Improved tree mortality parameters in ESM2G produced more realistic carbon accumulation in vegetation pools. The major advantages of ESM2M over ESM2G are reduced nutrient and oxygen biases in the southern and tropical oceans.

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John P. Dunne, Jasmin G. John, Alistair J. Adcroft, Stephen M. Griffies, Robert W. Hallberg, Elena Shevliakova, Ronald J. Stouffer, William Cooke, Krista A. Dunne, Matthew J. Harrison, John P. Krasting, Sergey L. Malyshev, P. C. D. Milly, Peter J. Phillipps, Lori T. Sentman, Bonita L. Samuels, Michael J. Spelman, Michael Winton, Andrew T. Wittenberg, and Niki Zadeh

Abstract

The physical climate formulation and simulation characteristics of two new global coupled carbon–climate Earth System Models, ESM2M and ESM2G, are described. These models demonstrate similar climate fidelity as the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory’s previous Climate Model version 2.1 (CM2.1) while incorporating explicit and consistent carbon dynamics. The two models differ exclusively in the physical ocean component; ESM2M uses Modular Ocean Model version 4p1 with vertical pressure layers while ESM2G uses Generalized Ocean Layer Dynamics with a bulk mixed layer and interior isopycnal layers. Differences in the ocean mean state include the thermocline depth being relatively deep in ESM2M and relatively shallow in ESM2G compared to observations. The crucial role of ocean dynamics on climate variability is highlighted in El Niño–Southern Oscillation being overly strong in ESM2M and overly weak in ESM2G relative to observations. Thus, while ESM2G might better represent climate changes relating to total heat content variability given its lack of long-term drift, gyre circulation, and ventilation in the North Pacific, tropical Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, and depth structure in the overturning and abyssal flows, ESM2M might better represent climate changes relating to surface circulation given its superior surface temperature, salinity, and height patterns, tropical Pacific circulation and variability, and Southern Ocean dynamics. The overall assessment is that neither model is fundamentally superior to the other, and that both models achieve sufficient fidelity to allow meaningful climate and earth system modeling applications. This affords the ability to assess the role of ocean configuration on earth system interactions in the context of two state-of-the-art coupled carbon–climate models.

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