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  1. Rapid Arctic environmental change affects the entire Earth system as thawing permafrost ecosystems release greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Understanding how much permafrost carbon will be released, over what time frame, and what the relative emissions of carbon dioxide and methane will be is key for understanding the impact on global climate. In addition, the response of vegetation in a warming climate has the potential to offset at least some of the accelerating feedback to the climate from permafrost carbon. Temperature, organic carbon, and ground ice are key regulators for determining the impact of permafrost ecosystems on the global carbon cycle. Together, these encompass services of permafrost relevant to global society as well as to the people living in the region and help to determine the landscape-level response of this region to a changing climate.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 17, 2023
  2. 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 modelmore »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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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  4. Abstract

    Biophysical effects from deforestation have the potential to amplify carbon losses but are often neglected in carbon accounting systems. Here we use both Earth system model simulations and satellite–derived estimates of aboveground biomass to assess losses of vegetation carbon caused by the influence of tropical deforestation on regional climate across different continents. In the Amazon, warming and drying arising from deforestation result in an additional 5.1 ± 3.7% loss of aboveground biomass. Biophysical effects also amplify carbon losses in the Congo (3.8 ± 2.5%) but do not lead to significant additional carbon losses in tropical Asia due to its high levels of annual mean precipitation. These findings indicate that tropical forests may be undervalued in carbon accounting systems that neglect climate feedbacks from surface biophysical changes and that the positive carbon–climate feedback from deforestation-driven climate change is higher than the feedback originating from fossil fuel emissions.

  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  6. Abstract

    Large-scale changes in the state of the land surface affect the circulation of the atmosphere and the structure and function of ecosystems alike. As global temperatures increase and regional climates change, the timing of key plant phenophase changes are likely to shift as well. Here we evaluate a suite of phenometrics designed to facilitate an “apples to apples” comparison between remote sensing products and climate model output. Specifically, we derive day-of-year (DOY) thresholds of leaf area index (LAI) from both remote sensing and the Community Land Model (CLM) over the Northern Hemisphere. This systematic approach to comparing phenologically relevant variables reveals appreciable differences in both LAI seasonal cycle and spring onset timing between model simulated phenology and satellite records. For example, phenological spring onset in the model occurs on average 30 days later than observed, especially for evergreen plant functional types. The disagreement in phenology can result in a mean bias of approximately 5% of the total estimated Northern Hemisphere NPP. Further, while the more recent version of CLM (v5.0) exhibits seasonal mean LAI values that are in closer agreement with satellite data than its predecessor (CLM4.5), LAI seasonal cycles in CLM5.0 exhibit poorer agreement. Therefore, despite broad improvementsmore »for a range of states and fluxes from CLM4.5 to CLM5.0, degradation of plant phenology occurs in CLM5.0. Therefore, any coupling between the land surface and the atmosphere that depends on vegetation state might not be fully captured by the existing generation of the model. We also discuss several avenues for improving the fidelity between observations and model simulations.

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