Cronin Timothy W.

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Timothy W.

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  • Article
    Nitrogen effect on carbon-water coupling in forests, grasslands, and shrublands in the arid western United States
    (American Geophysical Union, 2011-08-25) Felzer, Benjamin S. ; Cronin, Timothy W. ; Melillo, Jerry M. ; Kicklighter, David W. ; Schlosser, C. Adam ; Dangal, Shree R. S.
    As greenhouse gases, including CO2, accumulate in the atmosphere, the western United States is predicted to undergo large-scale climate warming and reduced summer precipitation in the coming decades. In this study we explore the role of these climate changes with elevated CO2 to determine the plant physiological response on primary productivity and associated feedbacks on evapotranspiration (ET) and runoff using a biogeochemistry model, TEM-Hydro, with downscaled climate data for the western United States from the NCAR CCSM3 A2 scenario. Net primary productivity increases by 32% in forests due to feedbacks between warmer temperatures and enhanced nitrogen mineralization but decreases in shrublands by 24% due to excessive drying and reduced nitrogen mineralization. Warming directly increases nitrogen mineralization rates but indirectly decreases them by reducing soil moisture, so the net effect is highly dependent on climatic conditions within each biome. Increased soil moisture resulting from larger water use efficiency from the elevated CO2 leads to more net nitrogen mineralization in forests, which reduces N-limiting conditions. The effect of CO2 on stomatal conductance is therefore enhanced because of its effect on reducing nitrogen limiting conditions. Runoff decreases over the 21st century by 22% in forests, 58% in grasslands, and 67% in shrublands due to the reduced precipitation in each region but is modulated by the plant-induced changes in ET. The role of moisture limitation is therefore a crucial regulator of nitrogen limitation, which determines the future productivity and water availability in the West.
  • Article
    Consequences of considering carbon–nitrogen interactions on the feedbacks between climate and the terrestrial carbon cycle
    (American Meteorological Society, 2008-08-01) Sokolov, Andrei P. ; Kicklighter, David W. ; Melillo, Jerry M. ; Felzer, Benjamin S. ; Schlosser, C. Adam ; Cronin, Timothy W.
    The impact of carbon–nitrogen dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems on the interaction between the carbon cycle and climate is studied using an earth system model of intermediate complexity, the MIT Integrated Global Systems Model (IGSM). Numerical simulations were carried out with two versions of the IGSM’s Terrestrial Ecosystems Model, one with and one without carbon–nitrogen dynamics. Simulations show that consideration of carbon–nitrogen interactions not only limits the effect of CO2 fertilization but also changes the sign of the feedback between the climate and terrestrial carbon cycle. In the absence of carbon–nitrogen interactions, surface warming significantly reduces carbon sequestration in both vegetation and soil by increasing respiration and decomposition (a positive feedback). If plant carbon uptake, however, is assumed to be nitrogen limited, an increase in decomposition leads to an increase in nitrogen availability stimulating plant growth. The resulting increase in carbon uptake by vegetation exceeds carbon loss from the soil, leading to enhanced carbon sequestration (a negative feedback). Under very strong surface warming, however, terrestrial ecosystems become a carbon source whether or not carbon–nitrogen interactions are considered. Overall, for small or moderate increases in surface temperatures, consideration of carbon–nitrogen interactions result in a larger increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration in the simulations with prescribed carbon emissions. This suggests that models that ignore terrestrial carbon–nitrogen dynamics will underestimate reductions in carbon emissions required to achieve atmospheric CO2 stabilization at a given level. At the same time, compensation between climate-related changes in the terrestrial and oceanic carbon uptakes significantly reduces uncertainty in projected CO2 concentration.
  • Article
    Correction to “Importance of carbon-nitrogen interactions and ozone on ecosystem hydrology during the 21st century”
    (American Geophysical Union, 2009-08-22) Felzer, Benjamin S. ; Cronin, Timothy W. ; Melillo, Jerry M. ; Kicklighter, David W. ; Schlosser, C. Adam
  • Article
    Importance of carbon-nitrogen interactions and ozone on ecosystem hydrology during the 21st century
    (American Geophysical Union, 2009-03-18) Felzer, Benjamin S. ; Cronin, Timothy W. ; Melillo, Jerry M. ; Kicklighter, David W. ; Schlosser, C. Adam
    There is evidence that increasing CO2 concentrations have reduced evapotranspiration and increased runoff through reductions in stomatal conductance during the twentieth century. While this process will continue to counteract increased evapotranspiration associated with future warming, it is highly dependent upon concurrent changes in photosynthesis, especially due to CO2 fertilization, nitrogen limitation, and ozone exposure. A new version of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM-Hydro) was developed to examine the effects of carbon and nitrogen on the water cycle. We used two climate models (NCAR CCSM3 and DOE PCM) and two emissions scenarios (SRES B1 and A2) to examine the effects of climate, elevated CO2, nitrogen limitation, and ozone exposure on the hydrological cycle in the eastern United States. While the direction of future runoff changes is largely dependent upon predicted precipitation changes, the effects of elevated CO2 on ecosystem function (stomatal closure and CO2 fertilization) increase runoff by 3–7%, as compared to the effects of climate alone. Consideration of nitrogen limitation and ozone damage on photosynthesis increases runoff by a further 6–11%. Failure to consider the effects of the interactions among nitrogen, ozone, and elevated CO2 may lead to significant regional underestimates of future runoff.