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See detailDetecting a forced signal in satellite-era sea-level change
Richter, K.; Meyssignac, B.; Slangen, A. et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2020)

In this study, we compare the spatial patterns of simulated geocentric sea-level change to observations from satellite altimetry over the period 1993-2015 to assess whether a forced signal is detectable ... [more ▼]

In this study, we compare the spatial patterns of simulated geocentric sea-level change to observations from satellite altimetry over the period 1993-2015 to assess whether a forced signal is detectable. This is challenging, as on these time scales internal variability plays an important role and may dominate the observed spatial patterns of regional sea-level change. Model simulations of regional sea-level change associated with sterodynamic sea level, atmospheric loading, glacier mass change, and ice-sheet surface mass balance changes are combined with observations of groundwater depletion, reservoir storage, and dynamic ice-sheet mass changes. The resulting total geocentric regional sea-level change is then compared to independent measurements from satellite altimeter observations. The detectability of the climate-forced signal is assessed by comparing the model ensemble mean of the "historical" simulations with the characteristics of sea-level variability in pre-industrial control simulations. To further minimize the impact of internal variability, zonal averages were produced. We find that, in all ocean basins, zonally averaged simulated sea-level changes are consistent with observations within sampling uncertainties associated with simulated internal variability of the sterodynamic component. Furthermore, the simulated zonally averaged sea-level change cannot be explained by internal variability alone - thus we conclude that the observations include a forced contribution that is detectable at basin scales. [less ▲]

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See detailPronounced and unavoidable impacts of low-end global warming on northern high-latitude land ecosystems
Ito, A.; Reyer, C. P. O.; Gädeke, A. et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2020), 15(4),

Arctic ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of Arctic amplification. Here, we assessed the climatic impacts of low-end, 1.5 °C, and 2.0 °C global temperature increases above ... [more ▼]

Arctic ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of Arctic amplification. Here, we assessed the climatic impacts of low-end, 1.5 °C, and 2.0 °C global temperature increases above pre-industrial levels, on the warming of terrestrial ecosystems in northern high latitudes (NHL, above 60 °N including pan-Arctic tundra and boreal forests) under the framework of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project phase 2b protocol. We analyzed the simulated changes of net primary productivity, vegetation biomass, and soil carbon stocks of eight ecosystem models that were forced by the projections of four global climate models and two atmospheric greenhouse gas pathways (RCP2.6 and RCP6.0). Our results showed that considerable impacts on ecosystem carbon budgets, particularly primary productivity and vegetation biomass, are very likely to occur in the NHL areas. The models agreed on increases in primary productivity and biomass accumulation, despite considerable inter-model and inter-scenario differences in the magnitudes of the responses. The inter-model variability highlighted the inadequacies of the present models, which fail to consider important components such as permafrost and wildfire. The simulated impacts were attributable primarily to the rapid temperature increases in the NHL and the greater sensitivity of northern vegetation to warming, which contrasted with the less pronounced responses of soil carbon stocks. The simulated increases of vegetation biomass by 30-60 Pg C in this century have implications for climate policy such as the Paris Agreement. Comparison between the results at two warming levels showed the effectiveness of emission reductions in ameliorating the impacts and revealed unavoidable impacts for which adaptation options are urgently needed in the NHL ecosystems. © 2020 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluating changes of biomass in global vegetation models: the role of turnover fluctuations and ENSO events
Cantú, Anselmo García; Frieler, Katja; Reyer, Christopher P O et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2018)

This paper evaluates the ability of eight global vegetation models to reproduce recent trends and inter-annual variability of biomass in natural terrestrial ecosystems. For the purpose of this evaluation ... [more ▼]

This paper evaluates the ability of eight global vegetation models to reproduce recent trends and inter-annual variability of biomass in natural terrestrial ecosystems. For the purpose of this evaluation, the simulated trajectories of biomass are expressed in terms of the relative rate of change in biomass (RRB), defined as the deviation of the actual rate of biomass turnover from its equilibrium counterpart. Cumulative changes in RRB explain long-term changes in biomass pools. RRB simulated by the global vegetation models is compared with its observational equivalent, derived from vegetation optical depth reconstructions of above-ground biomass (AGB) over the period 1993–2010. According to the RRB analysis, the rate of global biomass growth described by the ensemble of simulations substantially exceeds the observation. The observed fluctuations of global RRB are significantly correlated with El Niño Southern Oscillation events (ENSO), but only some of the simulations reproduce this correlation. However, the ENSO sensitivity of RRB in the tropics is not significant in the observation, while it is in some of the simulations. This mismatch points to an important limitation of the observed AGB reconstruction to capture biomass variations in tropical forests. Important discrepancies in RRB were also identified at the regional scale, in the tropical forests of Amazonia and Central Africa, as well as in the boreal forests of north-western America, western and central Siberia. In each of these regions, the RRBs derived from the simulations were analyzed in connection with underlying differences in net primary productivity and biomass turnover rate ̶as a basis for exploring in how far differences in simulated changes in biomass are attributed to the response of the carbon uptake to CO2 increments, as well as to the model representation of factors affecting the rates of mortality and turnover of foliage and roots. Overall, our findings stress the usefulness of using RRB to evaluate complex vegetation models and highlight the importance of conducting further evaluations of both the actual rate of biomass turnover and its equilibrium counterpart, with special focus on their background values and sources of variation. In turn, this task would require the availability of more accurate multi-year observational data of biomass and net primary productivity for natural ecosystems, as well as detailed and updated information on land-cover classification. [less ▲]

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See detailBenchmarking carbon fluxes of the ISIMIP2a biome models
Chang, Jinfeng; Ciais, Philippe; Wang, Xuhui et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2017), 12

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the eight ISIMIP2a biome models against independent estimates of long-term net carbon fluxes (i.e. Net Biome Productivity, NBP) over terrestrial ecosystems for the ... [more ▼]

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the eight ISIMIP2a biome models against independent estimates of long-term net carbon fluxes (i.e. Net Biome Productivity, NBP) over terrestrial ecosystems for the recent four decades (1971–2010). We evaluate modeled global NBP against 1) the updated global residual land sink (RLS) plus land use emissions (E LUC) from the Global Carbon Project (GCP), presented as R + L in this study by Le Quéré et al (2015), and 2) the land CO2 fluxes from two atmospheric inversion systems: Jena CarboScope s81_v3.8 and CAMS v15r2, referred to as F Jena and F CAMS respectively. The model ensemble-mean NBP (that includes seven models with land-use change) is higher than but within the uncertainty of R + L, while the simulated positive NBP trend over the last 30 yr is lower than that from R + L and from the two inversion systems. ISIMIP2a biome models well capture the interannual variation of global net terrestrial ecosystem carbon fluxes. Tropical NBP represents 31 ± 17% of global total NBP during the past decades, and the year-to-year variation of tropical NBP contributes most of the interannual variation of global NBP. According to the models, increasing Net Primary Productivity (NPP) was the main cause for the generally increasing NBP. Significant global NBP anomalies from the long-term mean between the two phases of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events are simulated by all models (p < 0.05), which is consistent with the R + L estimate (p = 0.06), also mainly attributed to NPP anomalies, rather than to changes in heterotrophic respiration (Rh). The global NPP and NBP anomalies during ENSO events are dominated by their anomalies in tropical regions impacted by tropical climate variability. Multiple regressions between R + L, F Jena and F CAMS interannual variations and tropical climate variations reveal a significant negative response of global net terrestrial ecosystem carbon fluxes to tropical mean annual temperature variation, and a non-significant response to tropical annual precipitation variation. According to the models, tropical precipitation is a more important driver, suggesting that some models do not capture the roles of precipitation and temperature changes adequately. [less ▲]

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See detailRegional contribution to variability and trends of global gross primary productivity
Chen, Min; Rafique, Rashid; Asrar, Ghassem R. et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2017), 12(10), 105005

Terrestrial gross primary productivity (GPP) is the largest component of the global carbon cycle and a key process for understanding land ecosystems dynamics. In this study, we used GPP estimates from a ... [more ▼]

Terrestrial gross primary productivity (GPP) is the largest component of the global carbon cycle and a key process for understanding land ecosystems dynamics. In this study, we used GPP estimates from a combination of eight global biome models participating in the Inter-Sectoral Impact-Model Intercomparison Project phase 2a (ISIMIP2a), the Moderate Resolution Spectroradiometer (MODIS) GPP product, and a data-driven product (Model Tree Ensemble, MTE) to study the spatiotemporal variability of GPP at the regional and global levels. We found the 2000–2010 total global GPP estimated from the model ensemble to be 117 ± 13 Pg C yr −1 (mean ± 1 standard deviation), which was higher than MODIS (112 Pg C yr −1 ), and close to the MTE (120 Pg C yr −1 ). The spatial patterns of MODIS, MTE and ISIMIP2a GPP generally agree well, but their temporal trends are different, and the seasonality and inter-annual variability of GPP at the regional and global levels are not completely consistent. For the model ensemble, Tropical Latin America contributes the most to global GPP, Asian regions contribute the most to the global GPP trend, the Northern Hemisphere regions dominate the global GPP seasonal variations, and Oceania is likely the largest contributor to inter-annual variability of global GPP. However, we observed large uncertainties across the eight ISIMIP2a models, which are probably due to the differences in the formulation of underlying photosynthetic processes. The results of this study are useful in understanding the contributions of different regions to global GPP and its spatiotemporal variability, how the model- and observational-based GPP estimates differ from each other in time and space, and the relative strength of the eight models. Our results also highlight the models’ ability to capture the seasonality of GPP that are essential for understanding the inter-annual and seasonal variability of GPP as a major component of the carbon cycle. [less ▲]

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See detailPhotosynthetic productivity and its efficiencies in ISIMIP2a biome models: benchmarking for impact assessment studies
Ito, Akihiko; Nishina, Kazuya; Reyer, Christopher P. O. et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2017), 12(8), 085001

Simulating vegetation photosynthetic productivity (or gross primary production, GPP) is a critical feature of the biome models used for impact assessments of climate change. We conducted a benchmarking of ... [more ▼]

Simulating vegetation photosynthetic productivity (or gross primary production, GPP) is a critical feature of the biome models used for impact assessments of climate change. We conducted a benchmarking of global GPP simulated by eight biome models participating in the second phase of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP2a) with four meteorological forcing datasets (30 simulations), using independent GPP estimates and recent satellite data of solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence as a proxy of GPP. The simulated global terrestrial GPP ranged from 98 to 141 Pg C yr −1 (1981–2000 mean); considerable inter-model and inter-data differences were found. Major features of spatial distribution and seasonal change of GPP were captured by each model, showing good agreement with the benchmarking data. All simulations showed incremental trends of annual GPP, seasonal-cycle amplitude, radiation-use efficiency, and water-use efficiency, mainly caused by the CO 2 fertilization effect. The incremental slopes were higher than those obtained by remote sensing studies, but comparable with those by recent atmospheric observation. Apparent differences were found in the relationship between GPP and incoming solar radiation, for which forcing data differed considerably. The simulated GPP trends co-varied with a vegetation structural parameter, leaf area index, at model-dependent strengths, implying the importance of constraining canopy properties. In terms of extreme events, GPP anomalies associated with a historical El Niño event and large volcanic eruption were not consistently simulated in the model experiments due to deficiencies in both forcing data and parameterized environmental responsiveness. Although the benchmarking demonstrated the overall advancement of contemporary biome models, further refinements are required, for example, for solar radiation data and vegetation canopy schemes. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluating ethane and methane emissions associated with the development of oil and natural gas extraction in North America
Franco, Bruno ULiege; Mahieu, Emmanuel ULiege; Emmons, L. K. et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2016), 11(4), 044010

Sharp rises in the atmospheric abundance of ethane (C2H6) have been detected from 2009 onwards in the Northern Hemisphere as a result of the unprecedented growth in the exploitation of shale gas and tight ... [more ▼]

Sharp rises in the atmospheric abundance of ethane (C2H6) have been detected from 2009 onwards in the Northern Hemisphere as a result of the unprecedented growth in the exploitation of shale gas and tight oil reservoirs in North America. Using time series of C2H6 total columns derived from ground-based FTIR observations made at five selected NDACC sites, we characterize the recent C2H6 evolution and determine growth rates of ~5%/yr at mid-latitudes and of ~3%/yr at remote sites. Results from CAM-chem simulations with the HTAP2 bottom-up inventory for anthropogenic emissions are found to greatly underestimate the current C2H6 abundances. Doubling global emissions is required to reconcile the simulations and the observations prior to 2009. We further estimate that North American anthropogenic C2H6 emissions have increased from 1.6 Tg/yr in 2008 to 2.8 Tg/yr in 2014, i.e. by 75% over these six years. We also completed a second simulation with new top-down emissions of C2H6 from North American oil and gas activities, biofuel consumption and biomass burning, inferred from space-borne observations of methane (CH4) from GOSAT. In this simulation, GEOS-Chem is able to reproduce FTIR measurements at the mid-latitudinal sites, underscoring the impact of the North American oil and gas development on the current C2H6 abundance. Finally we estimate that the North American oil and gas emissions of CH4, a major greenhouse gas, grew from 20 to 35 Tg/yr over the period 2008 to 2014, in association with the recent C2H6 rise. [less ▲]

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See detailThe future sea-level rise contribution of Greenland's glaciers and ice caps
Machguth, Horst; Rastner, P.; Bolch, T. et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2013), 8(025005), 14

We calculate the future sea-level rise contribution from the surface mass balance of all of Greenland's glaciers and ice caps (GICs, ~90 000 km2) using a simplified energy balance model which is driven by ... [more ▼]

We calculate the future sea-level rise contribution from the surface mass balance of all of Greenland's glaciers and ice caps (GICs, ~90 000 km2) using a simplified energy balance model which is driven by three future climate scenarios from the regional climate models HIRHAM5, RACMO2 and MAR. Glacier extent and surface elevation are modified during the mass balance model runs according to a glacier retreat parameterization. Mass balance and glacier surface change are both calculated on a 250 m resolution digital elevation model yielding a high level of detail and ensuring that important feedback mechanisms are considered. The mass loss of all GICs by 2098 is calculated to be 2016 ± 129 Gt (HIRHAM5 forcing), 2584 ± 109 Gt (RACMO2) and 3907 ± 108 Gt (MAR). This corresponds to a total contribution to sea-level rise of 5.8 ± 0.4, 7.4 ± 0.3 and 11.2 ± 0.3 mm, respectively. Sensitivity experiments suggest that mass loss could be higher by 20–30% if a strong lowering of the surface albedo were to take place in the future. It is shown that the sea-level rise contribution from the north-easterly regions of Greenland is reduced by increasing precipitation while mass loss in the southern half of Greenland is dominated by steadily decreasing summer mass balances. In addition we observe glaciers in the north-eastern part of Greenland changing their characteristics towards greater activity and mass turnover. [less ▲]

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See detail21st century projections of surface mass balance changes for major drainage systems of the Greenland ice sheet
Tedesco, M.; Fettweis, Xavier ULiege

in Environmental Research Letters (2012), 7

Outputs from the regional climate model Modèle Atmosphérique Régionale at a spatial resolution of 25 km are used to study 21st century projected surface mass balance (SMB) over six major drainage basins ... [more ▼]

Outputs from the regional climate model Modèle Atmosphérique Régionale at a spatial resolution of 25 km are used to study 21st century projected surface mass balance (SMB) over six major drainage basins of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS). The regional model is forced with the outputs of three different Earth System Models (CanESM2, NorESM1 and MIROC5) obtained when considering two greenhouse gas future scenarios with levels of CO2 equivalent of, respectively, 850 and >1370 ppm by 2100. Results indicate that the increase in runoff due to warming will exceed the increased precipitation deriving from the increase in evaporation for all basins, with the amount of net loss of mass at the surface varying spatially. Basins along the southwest and north coast are projected to have the highest sensitivity of SMB to increasing temperatures. For these basins, the global temperature anomaly corresponding to a decrease of the SMB below the 1980–99 average (when the ice sheet was near the equilibrium) ranges between +0.60 and +2.16 °C. For the basins along the northwest and northeast, these values range between +1.50 and +3.40 °C. Our results are conservative as they do not account for ice dynamics and changes in the ice sheet topography. [less ▲]

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See detailThe role of albedo and accumulation in the 2010 melting record in Greenland
Tedesco, Marco; Fettweis, Xavier ULiege; van den Broeke, Michiel et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2011), 6(1),

Analyses of remote sensing data, surface observations and output from a regional atmosphere model point to new records in 2010 for surface melt and albedo, runoff, the number of days when bare ice is ... [more ▼]

Analyses of remote sensing data, surface observations and output from a regional atmosphere model point to new records in 2010 for surface melt and albedo, runoff, the number of days when bare ice is exposed and surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, especially over its west and southwest regions. Early melt onset in spring, triggered by above-normal near-surface air temperatures, contributed to accelerated snowpack metamorphism and premature bare ice exposure, rapidly reducing the surface albedo. Warm conditions persisted through summer, with the positive albedo feedback mechanism being a major contributor to large negative surface mass balance anomalies. Summer snowfall was below average. This helped to maintain low albedo through the 2010 melting season, which also lasted longer than usual. [less ▲]

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See detailClimate control of terrestrial carbon exchange across biomes and continents
Yi, Chuixiang; Ricciuto, Daniel; Li, Runze et al

in Environmental Research Letters (2010), 5(3),

Understanding the relationships between climate and carbon exchange by terrestrial ecosystems is critical to predict future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide because of the potential accelerating ... [more ▼]

Understanding the relationships between climate and carbon exchange by terrestrial ecosystems is critical to predict future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide because of the potential accelerating effects of positive climate-carbon cycle feedbacks. However, directly observed relationships between climate and terrestrial CO2 exchange with the atmosphere across biomes and continents are lacking. Here we present data describing the relationships between net ecosystem exchange of carbon (NEE) and climate factors as measured using the eddy covariance method at 125 unique sites in various ecosystems over six continents with a total of 559 site-years. We find that NEE observed at eddy covariance sites is (1) a strong function of mean annual temperature at mid-and high-latitudes, (2) a strong function of dryness at mid-and low-latitudes, and (3) a function of both temperature and dryness around the mid-latitudinal belt (45 degrees N). The sensitivity of NEE to mean annual temperature breaks down at similar to 16 degrees C (a threshold value of mean annual temperature), above which no further increase of CO2 uptake with temperature was observed and dryness influence overrules temperature influence. [less ▲]

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