Skip to main content
Article
Uncertainty in the response of terrestrial carbon sink to environmental drivers undermines carbon-climate feedback predictions
Nature Scientific Reports
  • D.N. Huntzinger, Northern Arizona University
  • A.M. Michalak, Carnegie Institution for Science - Stanford
  • C. Schwalm, Northern Arizona University
  • P. Ciais, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement
  • A.W. King, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Y. Fang, Carnegie Institution for Science - Stanford
  • K. Schaefer, University of Colorado
  • Y. Wei, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • R.B. Cook, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • J.B. Fisher, California Institute of Technology
  • D. Hayes, University of Maine
  • M. Huang, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • A. Ito, National Institute for Environmental Studies,
  • A.K. Jain, University of Illinois
  • H. Lei, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Chaoqun (Crystal) Lu, Iowa State University
  • F. Maignan, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement
  • J. Mao, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • N. Parazoo, California Institute of Technology
  • S. Peng, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement
  • B. Poulter, Montana State University
  • D. Ricciuto, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • X. Shi, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • H. Tian, Auburn University
  • W. Wang, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Moffett Field
  • N. Zeng, University of Maryland
  • F. Zhao, University of Maryland
Document Type
Article
Publication Version
Published Version
Publication Date
1-1-2017
DOI
10.1038/s41598-017-03818-2
Abstract

Terrestrial ecosystems play a vital role in regulating the accumulation of carbon (C) in the atmosphere. Understanding the factors controlling land C uptake is critical for reducing uncertainties in projections of future climate. The relative importance of changing climate, rising atmospheric CO2, and other factors, however, remains unclear despite decades of research. Here, we use an ensemble of land models to show that models disagree on the primary driver of cumulative C uptake for 85% of vegetated land area. Disagreement is largest in model sensitivity to rising atmospheric CO2 which shows almost twice the variability in cumulative land uptake since 1901 (1 s.d. of 212.8 PgC vs. 138.5 PgC, respectively). We find that variability in CO2 and temperature sensitivity is attributable, in part, to their compensatory effects on C uptake, whereby comparable estimates of C uptake can arise by invoking different sensitivities to key environmental conditions. Conversely, divergent estimates of C uptake can occur despite being based on the same environmental sensitivities. Together, these findings imply an important limitation to the predictability of C cycling and climate under unprecedented environmental conditions. We suggest that the carbon modeling community prioritize a probabilistic multi-model approach to generate more robust C cycle projections.

Comments

This article is published as 7. Huntzinger, D., A. Michalak, C. Schwalm, P. Ciais, A. King, Y. Fang, K. Schefer, Y. Wei, R. Cook, J. Fisher, D. Hayes, M. Huang, A. Ito, A. Jain, H. Lei, C. Lu, F. Maignam, J. Mao, N. Parazoo, S. Peng, B. Poulter, D. Ricciuto, X. Shi, H. Tian, W. Wang, N. Zeng, and F. Zhao. 2017. Uncertainty in the response of terrestrial carbon sink to environmental drivers undermines carbon-climate feedback predictions.Nature Scientific Reports, 7(2017); 4765. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-03818-2 .

Rights
Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
Copyright Owner
Nature Scientific Reports
Language
en
File Format
application/pdf
Citation Information
D.N. Huntzinger, A.M. Michalak, C. Schwalm, P. Ciais, et al.. "Uncertainty in the response of terrestrial carbon sink to environmental drivers undermines carbon-climate feedback predictions" Nature Scientific Reports Vol. 7 Iss. 4765 (2017)
Available at: http://0-works.bepress.com.library.simmons.edu/chaoqun_lu/41/