Carbon-Climate-Human Interactions in an Integrated Human-Earth System Model

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 08:00
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The C4MIP and CMIP5 results highlighted large uncertainties in climate projections, driven to a large extent by limited understanding of the interactions between terrestrial carbon-cycle and climate feedbacks, and their associated uncertainties. These feedbacks are dominated by uncertainties in soil processes, disturbance dynamics, ecosystem response to climate change, and agricultural productivity, and land-use change. This research addresses three questions: (1) how do terrestrial feedbacks vary across different levels of climate change, (2) what is the relative contribution of CO2 fertilization and climate change, and (3) how robust are the results across different models and methods? We used a coupled modeling framework that integrates an Integrated Assessment Model (modeling economic and energy activity) with an Earth System Model (modeling the natural earth system) to examine how business-as-usual (RCP 8.5) climate change will affect ecosystem productivity, cropland extent, and other aspects of the human-Earth system. We find that higher levels of radiative forcing result in higher productivity growth, that increases in CO2 concentrations are the dominant contributors to that growth, and that our productivity increases fall in the middle of the range when compared to other CMIP5 models and the AgMIP models. These results emphasize the importance of examining both the anthropogenic and natural components of the earth system, and their long-term interactive feedbacks.

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