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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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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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