Biospheric feedback effects in a synchronously coupled model of human and Earth systems

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 14:55
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Fossil fuel combustion and land-use change are the two largest contributors to industrial-era increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Projections of these are thus fundamental inputs for coupled Earth system models (ESMs) used to estimate the physical and biological consequences of future climate system forcing.While historical datasets are available to inform past and current climate analyses, assessments of future climate change have relied on projections of energy and land use from energy economic models, constrained by assumptions about future policy, land-use patterns, and socio-economic development trajectories. In this work we show that the climatic impacts on land ecosystems drives significant feedbacks in energy, agriculture, land-use, and carbon cycle projections for the 21st century. We find that exposure of human appropriated land ecosystem productivity to biospheric change results in reductions of land area used for crops; increases in managed forest area and carbon stocks; decreases in global crop prices; and reduction in fossil fuel emissions for a low-mid range forcing scenario. Land ecosystem response to increased carbon dioxide concentration, increased anthropogenic nitrogen deposition, and changes in temperature and precipitation all play a role. The feedbacks between climate-induced biospheric change and human system forcings to the climate system demonstrated in this work are handled inconsistently, or excluded altogether, in the one-way asynchronous coupling of energy economic models to ESMs used to date.

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