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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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Tilla Roy, Laurent Bopp, Marion Gehlen, Birgit Schneider, Patricia Cadule, Thomas L. Frölicher, Joachim Segschneider, Jerry Tjiputra, Christoph Heinze, and Fortunat Joos
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Tilla Roy, Laurent Bopp, Marion Gehlen, Birgit Schneider, Patricia Cadule, Thomas L. Frölicher, Joachim Segschneider, Jerry Tjiputra, Christoph Heinze, and Fortunat Joos

Abstract

The increase in atmospheric CO2 over this century depends on the evolution of the oceanic air–sea CO2 uptake, which will be driven by the combined response to rising atmospheric CO2 itself and climate change. Here, the future oceanic CO2 uptake is simulated using an ensemble of coupled climate–carbon cycle models. The models are driven by CO2 emissions from historical data and the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A2 high-emission scenario. A linear feedback analysis successfully separates the regional future (2010–2100) oceanic CO2 uptake into a CO2-induced component, due to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and a climate-induced component, due to global warming. The models capture the observation-based magnitude and distribution of anthropogenic CO2 uptake. The distributions of the climate-induced component are broadly consistent between the models, with reduced CO2 uptake in the subpolar Southern Ocean and the equatorial regions, owing to decreased CO2 solubility; and reduced CO2 uptake in the midlatitudes, owing to decreased CO2 solubility and increased vertical stratification. The magnitude of the climate-induced component is sensitive to local warming in the southern extratropics, to large freshwater fluxes in the extratropical North Atlantic Ocean, and to small changes in the CO2 solubility in the equatorial regions. In key anthropogenic CO2 uptake regions, the climate-induced component offsets the CO2-induced component at a constant proportion up until the end of this century. This amounts to approximately 50% in the northern extratropics and 25% in the southern extratropics and equatorial regions. Consequently, the detection of climate change impacts on anthropogenic CO2 uptake may be difficult without monitoring additional tracers, such as oxygen.

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P. Friedlingstein, P. Cox, R. Betts, L. Bopp, W. von Bloh, V. Brovkin, P. Cadule, S. Doney, M. Eby, I. Fung, G. Bala, J. John, C. Jones, F. Joos, T. Kato, M. Kawamiya, W. Knorr, K. Lindsay, H. D. Matthews, T. Raddatz, P. Rayner, C. Reick, E. Roeckner, K.-G. Schnitzler, R. Schnur, K. Strassmann, A. J. Weaver, C. Yoshikawa, and N. Zeng

Abstract

Eleven coupled climate–carbon cycle models used a common protocol to study the coupling between climate change and the carbon cycle. The models were forced by historical emissions and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A2 anthropogenic emissions of CO2 for the 1850–2100 time period. For each model, two simulations were performed in order to isolate the impact of climate change on the land and ocean carbon cycle, and therefore the climate feedback on the atmospheric CO2 concentration growth rate. There was unanimous agreement among the models that future climate change will reduce the efficiency of the earth system to absorb the anthropogenic carbon perturbation. A larger fraction of anthropogenic CO2 will stay airborne if climate change is accounted for. By the end of the twenty-first century, this additional CO2 varied between 20 and 200 ppm for the two extreme models, the majority of the models lying between 50 and 100 ppm. The higher CO2 levels led to an additional climate warming ranging between 0.1° and 1.5°C.

All models simulated a negative sensitivity for both the land and the ocean carbon cycle to future climate. However, there was still a large uncertainty on the magnitude of these sensitivities. Eight models attributed most of the changes to the land, while three attributed it to the ocean. Also, a majority of the models located the reduction of land carbon uptake in the Tropics. However, the attribution of the land sensitivity to changes in net primary productivity versus changes in respiration is still subject to debate; no consensus emerged among the models.

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