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  1. Accurate representation of permafrost carbon emissions is crucial for climate projections, yet current Earth system models inadequately represent permafrost carbon. Sustained funding opportunities are needed from government and private sectors for prioritized model development. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025
  2. Abstract

    Soil organic matter decomposition and its interactions with climate depend on whether the organic matter is associated with soil minerals. However, data limitations have hindered global-scale analyses of mineral-associated and particulate soil organic carbon pools and their benchmarking in Earth system models used to estimate carbon cycle–climate feedbacks. Here we analyse observationally derived global estimates of soil carbon pools to quantify their relative proportions and compute their climatological temperature sensitivities as the decline in carbon with increasing temperature. We find that the climatological temperature sensitivity of particulate carbon is on average 28% higher than that of mineral-associated carbon, and up to 53% higher in cool climates. Moreover, the distribution of carbon between these underlying soil carbon pools drives the emergent climatological temperature sensitivity of bulk soil carbon stocks. However, global models vary widely in their predictions of soil carbon pool distributions. We show that the global proportion of model pools that are conceptually similar to mineral-protected carbon ranges from 16 to 85% across Earth system models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 and offline land models, with implications for bulk soil carbon ages and ecosystem responsiveness. To improve projections of carbon cycle–climate feedbacks, it is imperative to assess underlying soil carbon pools to accurately predict the distribution and vulnerability of soil carbon.

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  3. Key Points A new semi‐analytical spin‐up (SASU) framework combines the default accelerated spin‐up method and matrix analytical algorithm SASU accelerates CLIM5 spin‐up by tens of times, becoming the fastest method to our knowledge SASU is applicable to most biogeochemical models and enables computationally costly study, for example, sensitivity analysis 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  4. The framework of Representative Key Risks (RKRs) has been adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II (WGII) to categorize, assess and communicate a wide range of regional and sectoral key risks from climate change. These are risks expected to become severe due to the potentially detrimental convergence of changing climate conditions with the exposure and vulnerability of human and natural systems. Other papers in this special issue treat each of eight RKRs holistically by assessing their current status and future evolution as a result of this convergence. However, in these papers, such assessment cannot always be organized according to a systematic gradation of climatic changes. Often the big-picture evolution of risk has to be extrapolated from either qualitative effects of “low”, “medium” and “high” warming, or limited/focused analysis of the consequences of particular mitigation choices (e.g., benefits of limiting warming to 1.5 or 2C), together with consideration of the socio-economic context and possible adaptation choices. In this study we offer a representation – as systematic as possible given current literature and assessments – of the future evolution of the hazard components of RKRs. We identify the relevant hazards for each RKR, based upon the WGII authors’ assessment, and we report on their current state and expected future changes in magnitude, intensity and/or frequency, linking these changes to Global Warming Levels (GWLs) to the extent possible. We draw on the assessment of changes in climatic impact-drivers relevant to RKRs described in the 6th Assessment Report by Working Group I supplemented when needed by more recent literature. For some of these quantities - like regional trends in oceanic and atmospheric temperature and precipitation, some heat and precipitation extremes, permafrost thaw and Northern Hemisphere snow cover - a strong and quantitative relationship with increasing GWLs has been identified. For others - like frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones and extra-tropical storms, and fire weather - that link can only be described qualitatively. For some processes - like the behavior of ice sheets, or changes in circulation dynamics - large uncertainties about the effects of different GWLs remain, and for a few others - like ocean pH and air pollution - the composition of the scenario of anthropogenic emissions is most relevant, rather than the warming reached. In almost all cases, however, the basic message remains that every small increment in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and associated warming will bring changes in climate phenomena that will contribute to increasing risk of impacts on human and natural systems, in the absence of compensating changes in these systems’ exposure and vulnerability, and in the absence of effective adaptation. Our picture of the evolution of RKR-relevant climatic impact-drivers complements and enriches the treatment of RKRs in the other papers in at least two ways: by filling in their often only cursory or limited representation of the physical climate aspects driving impacts, and by providing a fuller representation of their future potential evolution, an important component – if never the only one – of the future evolution of risk severity. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 26, 2024
  5. Abstract

    Global estimates of the land carbon sink are often based on simulations by terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs). The use of a large number of models that differ in their underlying hypotheses, structure and parameters is one way to assess the uncertainty in the historical land carbon sink. Here we show that the atmospheric forcing datasets used to drive these TBMs represent a significant source of uncertainty that is currently not systematically accounted for in land carbon cycle evaluations. We present results from three TBMs each forced with three different historical atmospheric forcing reconstructions over the period 1850–2015. We perform an analysis of variance to quantify the relative uncertainty in carbon fluxes arising from the models themselves, atmospheric forcing, and model-forcing interactions. We find that atmospheric forcing in this set of simulations plays a dominant role on uncertainties in global gross primary productivity (GPP) (75% of variability) and autotrophic respiration (90%), and a significant but reduced role on net primary productivity and heterotrophic respiration (30%). Atmospheric forcing is the dominant driver (52%) of variability for the net ecosystem exchange flux, defined as the difference between GPP and respiration (both autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration). In contrast, for wildfire-driven carbon emissions model uncertainties dominate and, as a result, model uncertainties dominate for net ecosystem productivity. At regional scales, the contribution of atmospheric forcing to uncertainty shows a very heterogeneous pattern and is smaller on average than at the global scale. We find that this difference in the relative importance of forcing uncertainty between global and regional scales is related to large differences in regional model flux estimates, which partially offset each other when integrated globally, while the flux differences driven by forcing are mainly consistent across the world and therefore add up to a larger fractional contribution to global uncertainty.

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  6. Abstract Arctic warming is affecting snow cover and soil hydrology, with consequences for carbon sequestration in tundra ecosystems. The scarcity of observations in the Arctic has limited our understanding of the impact of covarying environmental drivers on the carbon balance of tundra ecosystems. In this study, we address some of these uncertainties through a novel record of 119 site-years of summer data from eddy covariance towers representing dominant tundra vegetation types located on continuous permafrost in the Arctic. Here we found that earlier snowmelt was associated with more tundra net CO 2 sequestration and higher gross primary productivity (GPP) only in June and July, but with lower net carbon sequestration and lower GPP in August. Although higher evapotranspiration (ET) can result in soil drying with the progression of the summer, we did not find significantly lower soil moisture with earlier snowmelt, nor evidence that water stress affected GPP in the late growing season. Our results suggest that the expected increased CO 2 sequestration arising from Arctic warming and the associated increase in growing season length may not materialize if tundra ecosystems are not able to continue sequestering CO 2 later in the season. 
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    Large stocks of soil organic carbon (SOC) have accumulated in the Northern Hemisphere permafrost region, but their current amounts and future fate remain uncertain. By analyzing dataset combining >2700 soil profiles with environmental variables in a geospatial framework, we generated spatially explicit estimates of permafrost-region SOC stocks, quantified spatial heterogeneity, and identified key environmental predictors. We estimated that 1014 − 175 + 194 Pg C are stored in the top 3 m of permafrost region soils. The greatest uncertainties occurred in circumpolar toe-slope positions and in flat areas of the Tibetan region. We found that soil wetness index and elevation are the dominant topographic controllers and surface air temperature (circumpolar region) and precipitation (Tibetan region) are significant climatic controllers of SOC stocks. Our results provide first high-resolution geospatial assessment of permafrost region SOC stocks and their relationships with environmental factors, which are crucial for modeling the response of permafrost affected soils to changing climate. 
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