Randerson James T.

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James T.

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  • Article
    Preindustrial-control and twentieth-century carbon cycle experiments with the Earth System Model CESM1(BGC)
    (American Meteorological Society, 2014-12-15) Lindsay, Keith ; Bonan, Gordon B. ; Doney, Scott C. ; Hoffman, Forrest M. ; Lawrence, David M. ; Long, Matthew C. ; Mahowald, Natalie M. ; Moore, J. Keith ; Randerson, James T. ; Thornton, Peter E.
    Version 1 of the Community Earth System Model, in the configuration where its full carbon cycle is enabled, is introduced and documented. In this configuration, the terrestrial biogeochemical model, which includes carbon–nitrogen dynamics and is present in earlier model versions, is coupled to an ocean biogeochemical model and atmospheric CO2 tracers. The authors provide a description of the model, detail how preindustrial-control and twentieth-century experiments were initialized and forced, and examine the behavior of the carbon cycle in those experiments. They examine how sea- and land-to-air CO2 fluxes contribute to the increase of atmospheric CO2 in the twentieth century, analyze how atmospheric CO2 and its surface fluxes vary on interannual time scales, including how they respond to ENSO, and describe the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2 and its surface fluxes. While the model broadly reproduces observed aspects of the carbon cycle, there are several notable biases, including having too large of an increase in atmospheric CO2 over the twentieth century and too small of a seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2 in the Northern Hemisphere. The biases are related to a weak response of the carbon cycle to climatic variations on interannual and seasonal time scales and to twentieth-century anthropogenic forcings, including rising CO2, land-use change, and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen.
  • Article
    Separating the influence of temperature, drought, and fire on interannual variability in atmospheric CO2
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-11-19) Keppel-Aleks, Gretchen ; Wolf, Aaron S. ; Mu, Mingquan ; Doney, Scott C. ; Morton, Douglas C. ; Kasibhatla, Prasad S. ; Miller, John B. ; Dlugokencky, Edward J. ; Randerson, James T.
    The response of the carbon cycle in prognostic Earth system models (ESMs) contributes significant uncertainty to projections of global climate change. Quantifying contributions of known drivers of interannual variability in the growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is important for improving the representation of terrestrial ecosystem processes in these ESMs. Several recent studies have identified the temperature dependence of tropical net ecosystem exchange (NEE) as a primary driver of this variability by analyzing a single, globally averaged time series of CO2 anomalies. Here we examined how the temporal evolution of CO2 in different latitude bands may be used to separate contributions from temperature stress, drought stress, and fire emissions to CO2 variability. We developed atmospheric CO2 patterns from each of these mechanisms during 1997–2011 using an atmospheric transport model. NEE responses to temperature, NEE responses to drought, and fire emissions all contributed significantly to CO2 variability in each latitude band, suggesting that no single mechanism was the dominant driver. We found that the sum of drought and fire contributions to CO2 variability exceeded direct NEE responses to temperature in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Additional sensitivity tests revealed that these contributions are masked by temporal and spatial smoothing of CO2 observations. Accounting for fires, the sensitivity of tropical NEE to temperature stress decreased by 25% to 2.9 ± 0.4 Pg C yr−1 K−1. These results underscore the need for accurate attribution of the drivers of CO2 variability prior to using contemporary observations to constrain long-term ESM responses.
  • Article
    Atmospheric carbon dioxide variability in the Community Earth System Model : evaluation and transient dynamics during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
    (American Meteorological Society, 2013-07-01) Keppel-Aleks, Gretchen ; Randerson, James T. ; Lindsay, Keith ; Stephens, Britton B. ; Moore, J. Keith ; Doney, Scott C. ; Thornton, Peter E. ; Mahowald, Natalie M. ; Hoffman, Forrest M. ; Sweeney, Colm ; Tans, Pieter P. ; Wennberg, Paul O. ; Wofsy, Steven C.
    Changes in atmospheric CO2 variability during the twenty-first century may provide insight about ecosystem responses to climate change and have implications for the design of carbon monitoring programs. This paper describes changes in the three-dimensional structure of atmospheric CO2 for several representative concentration pathways (RCPs 4.5 and 8.5) using the Community Earth System Model–Biogeochemistry (CESM1-BGC). CO2 simulated for the historical period was first compared to surface, aircraft, and column observations. In a second step, the evolution of spatial and temporal gradients during the twenty-first century was examined. The mean annual cycle in atmospheric CO2 was underestimated for the historical period throughout the Northern Hemisphere, suggesting that the growing season net flux in the Community Land Model (the land component of CESM) was too weak. Consistent with weak summer drawdown in Northern Hemisphere high latitudes, simulated CO2 showed correspondingly weak north–south and vertical gradients during the summer. In the simulations of the twenty-first century, CESM predicted increases in the mean annual cycle of atmospheric CO2 and larger horizontal gradients. Not only did the mean north–south gradient increase due to fossil fuel emissions, but east–west contrasts in CO2 also strengthened because of changing patterns in fossil fuel emissions and terrestrial carbon exchange. In the RCP8.5 simulation, where CO2 increased to 1150 ppm by 2100, the CESM predicted increases in interannual variability in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes of up to 60% relative to present variability for time series filtered with a 2–10-yr bandpass. Such an increase in variability may impact detection of changing surface fluxes from atmospheric observations.
  • Article
    Interactions between land use change and carbon cycle feedbacks
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-01-23) Mahowald, Natalie M. ; Randerson, James T. ; Lindsay, Keith ; Munoz, Ernesto ; Doney, Scott C. ; Lawrence, Peter ; Schlunegger, Sarah ; Ward, Daniel S. ; Lawrence, David ; Hoffman, Forrest M.
    Using the Community Earth System Model, we explore the role of human land use and land cover change (LULCC) in modifying the terrestrial carbon budget in simulations forced by Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5, extended to year 2300. Overall, conversion of land (e.g., from forest to croplands via deforestation) results in a model-estimated, cumulative carbon loss of 490 Pg C between 1850 and 2300, larger than the 230 Pg C loss of carbon caused by climate change over this same interval. The LULCC carbon loss is a combination of a direct loss at the time of conversion and an indirect loss from the reduction of potential terrestrial carbon sinks. Approximately 40% of the carbon loss associated with LULCC in the simulations arises from direct human modification of the land surface; the remaining 60% is an indirect consequence of the loss of potential natural carbon sinks. Because of the multicentury carbon cycle legacy of current land use decisions, a globally averaged amplification factor of 2.6 must be applied to 2015 land use carbon losses to adjust for indirect effects. This estimate is 30% higher when considering the carbon cycle evolution after 2100. Most of the terrestrial uptake of anthropogenic carbon in the model occurs from the influence of rising atmospheric CO2 on photosynthesis in trees, and thus, model-projected carbon feedbacks are especially sensitive to deforestation.