Randerson James T.

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Randerson
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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)

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.

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Article

Are the impacts of land use on warming underestimated in climate policy?

2017-09-18 , Mahowald, Natalie M. , Ward, Daniel S. , Doney, Scott C. , Hess, Peter G. , Randerson, James T.

While carbon dioxide emissions from energy use must be the primary target of climate change mitigation efforts, land use and land cover change (LULCC) also represent an important source of climate forcing. In this study we compute time series of global surface temperature change separately for LULCC and non-LULCC sources (primarily fossil fuel burning), and show that because of the extra warming associated with the co-emission of methane and nitrous oxide with LULCC carbon dioxide emissions, and a co-emission of cooling aerosols with non-LULCC emissions of carbon dioxide, the linear relationship between cumulative carbon dioxide emissions and temperature has a two-fold higher slope for LULCC than for non-LULCC activities. Moreover, projections used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the rate of tropical land conversion in the future are relatively low compared to contemporary observations, suggesting that the future projections of land conversion used in the IPCC may underestimate potential impacts of LULCC. By including a ‘business as usual’ future LULCC scenario for tropical deforestation, we find that even if all non-LULCC emissions are switched off in 2015, it is likely that 1.5 ◦C of warming relative to the preindustrial era will occur by 2100. Thus, policies to reduce LULCC emissions must remain a high priority if we are to achieve the low to medium temperature change targets proposed as a part of the Paris Agreement. Future studies using integrated assessment models and other climate simulations should include more realistic deforestation rates and the integration of policy that would reduce LULCC emissions.

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Article

Precision requirements for space-based XCO2 data

2007-05-26 , Miller, C. E. , Crisp, D. , DeCola, P. L. , Olsen, S. C. , Randerson, James T. , Michalak, Anna M. , Alkhaled, A. , Rayner, Peter , Jacob, Daniel J. , Suntharalingam, Parvadha , Jones, D. B. A. , Denning, A. S. , Nicholls, M. E. , Doney, Scott C. , Pawson, S. , Boesch, H. , Connor, B. J. , Fung, Inez Y. , O'Brien, D. , Salawitch, R. J. , Sander, S. P. , Sen, B. , Tans, Pieter P. , Toon, G. C. , Wennberg, Paul O. , Wofsy, Steven C. , Yung, Y. L. , Law, R. M.

Precision requirements are determined for space-based column-averaged CO2 dry air mole fraction (XCO2) data. These requirements result from an assessment of spatial and temporal gradients in XCO2, the relationship between XCO2 precision and surface CO2 flux uncertainties inferred from inversions of the XCO2 data, and the effects of XCO2 biases on the fidelity of CO2 flux inversions. Observational system simulation experiments and synthesis inversion modeling demonstrate that the Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission design and sampling strategy provide the means to achieve these XCO2 data precision requirements.

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Article

Atmospheric carbon dioxide variability in the Community Earth System Model : evaluation and transient dynamics during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries

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.

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Article

Carbon-nitrogen interactions regulate climate-carbon cycle feedbacks : results from an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model

2009-10-08 , Thornton, Peter E. , Doney, Scott C. , Lindsay, Keith , Moore, J. Keith , Mahowald, Natalie M. , Randerson, James T. , Fung, Inez Y. , Lamarque, J.-F. , Feddema, J. J. , Lee, Y.-H.

Inclusion of fundamental ecological interactions between carbon and nitrogen cycles in the land component of an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model (AOGCM) leads to decreased carbon uptake associated with CO2 fertilization, and increased carbon uptake associated with warming of the climate system. The balance of these two opposing effects is to reduce the fraction of anthropogenic CO2 predicted to be sequestered in land ecosystems. The primary mechanism responsible for increased land carbon storage under radiatively forced climate change is shown to be fertilization of plant growth by increased mineralization of nitrogen directly associated with increased decomposition of soil organic matter under a warming climate, which in this particular model results in a negative gain for the climate-carbon feedback. Estimates for the land and ocean sink fractions of recent anthropogenic emissions are individually within the range of observational estimates, but the combined land plus ocean sink fractions produce an airborne fraction which is too high compared to observations. This bias is likely due in part to an underestimation of the ocean sink fraction. Our results show a significant growth in the airborne fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions over the coming century, attributable in part to a steady decline in the ocean sink fraction. Comparison to experimental studies on the fate of radio-labeled nitrogen tracers in temperate forests indicates that the model representation of competition between plants and microbes for new mineral nitrogen resources is reasonable. Our results suggest a weaker dependence of net land carbon flux on soil moisture changes in tropical regions, and a stronger positive growth response to warming in those regions, than predicted by a similar AOGCM implemented without land carbon-nitrogen interactions. We expect that the between-model uncertainty in predictions of future atmospheric CO2 concentration and associated anthropogenic climate change will be reduced as additional climate models introduce carbon-nitrogen cycle interactions in their land components.

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Article

Multicentury changes in ocean and land contributions to the climate-carbon feedback

2015-06-02 , Randerson, James T. , Lindsay, Keith , Munoz, E. , Fu, W. , Moore, J. Keith , Hoffman, Forrest M. , Mahowald, Natalie M. , Doney, Scott C.

Improved constraints on carbon cycle responses to climate change are needed to inform mitigation policy, yet our understanding of how these responses may evolve after 2100 remains highly uncertain. Using the Community Earth System Model (v1.0), we quantified climate-carbon feedbacks from 1850 to 2300 for the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 and its extension. In three simulations, land and ocean biogeochemical processes experienced the same trajectory of increasing atmospheric CO2. Each simulation had a different degree of radiative coupling for CO2 and other greenhouse gases and aerosols, enabling diagnosis of feedbacks. In a fully coupled simulation, global mean surface air temperature increased by 9.3 K from 1850 to 2300, with 4.4 K of this warming occurring after 2100. Excluding CO2, warming from other greenhouse gases and aerosols was 1.6 K by 2300, near a 2 K target needed to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Ocean contributions to the climate-carbon feedback increased considerably over time and exceeded contributions from land after 2100. The sensitivity of ocean carbon to climate change was found to be proportional to changes in ocean heat content, as a consequence of this heat modifying transport pathways for anthropogenic CO2 inflow and solubility of dissolved inorganic carbon. By 2300, climate change reduced cumulative ocean uptake by 330 Pg C, from 1410 Pg C to 1080 Pg C. Land fluxes similarly diverged over time, with climate change reducing stocks by 232 Pg C. Regional influence of climate change on carbon stocks was largest in the North Atlantic Ocean and tropical forests of South America. Our analysis suggests that after 2100, oceans may become as important as terrestrial ecosystems in regulating the magnitude of the climate-carbon feedback.

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Preprint

Reconciling carbon-cycle concepts, terminology, and methods

2006-01-06 , Chapin, F. Stuart , Woodwell, G. M. , Randerson, James T. , Rastetter, Edward B. , Lovett, G. M. , Baldocchi, Dennis D. , Clark, D. A. , Harmon, Mark E. , Schimel, David S. , Valentini, R. , Wirth, C. , Aber, J. D. , Cole, Jonathan J. , Goulden, Michael L. , Harden, J. W. , Heimann, M. , Howarth, Robert W. , Matson, P. A. , McGuire, A. David , Melillo, Jerry M. , Mooney, H. A. , Neff, Jason C. , Houghton, Richard A. , Pace, Michael L. , Ryan, M. G. , Running, Steven W. , Sala, Osvaldo E. , Schlesinger, William H. , Schulze, E.-D.

Recent patterns and projections of climatic change have focused increased scientific and public attention on patterns of carbon (C) cycling and its controls, particularly the factors that determine whether an ecosystem is a net source or sink of atmospheric CO2. Net ecosystem production (NEP), a central concept in C-cycling research, has been used to represent two different concepts by C-cycling scientists. We propose that NEP be restricted to just one of its two original definitions—the imbalance between gross primary production (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER), and that a new term—net ecosystem carbon balance (NECB)—be applied to the net rate of C accumulation in (or loss from; negative sign) ecosystems. NECB differs from NEP when C fluxes other than C fixation and respiration occur or when inorganic C enters or leaves in dissolved form. These fluxes include leaching loss or lateral transfer of C from the ecosystem; emission of volatile organic C, methane, and carbon monoxide; and soot and CO2 from fire. C fluxes in addition to NEP are particularly important determinants of NECB over long time scales. However, even over short time scales, they are important in ecosystems such as streams, estuaries, wetlands, and cities. Recent technological advances have led to a diversity of approaches to measuring C fluxes at different temporal and spatial scales. These approaches frequently capture different components of NEP or NECB and can therefore be compared across scales only by carefully specifying the fluxes included in the measurements. By explicitly identifying the fluxes that comprise NECB and other components of the C cycle, such as net ecosystem exchange (NEE) and net biome production (NBP), we provide a less ambiguous framework for understanding and communicating recent changes in the global C cycle. Key words: Net ecosystem production, net ecosystem carbon balance, gross primary production, ecosystem respiration, autotrophic respiration, heterotrophic respiration, net ecosystem exchange, net biome production, net primary production.

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Article

Interactions between land use change and carbon cycle feedbacks

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.

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Article

Separating the influence of temperature, drought, and fire on interannual variability in atmospheric CO2

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.

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Article

Desert dust and anthropogenic aerosol interactions in the Community Climate System Model coupled-carbon-climate model

2011-02-15 , Mahowald, Natalie M. , Lindsay, Keith , Rothenberg, D. , Doney, Scott C. , Moore, J. Keith , Thornton, Peter E. , Randerson, James T. , Jones, C. D.

Coupled-carbon-climate simulations are an essential tool for predicting the impact of human activity onto the climate and biogeochemistry. Here we incorporate prognostic desert dust and anthropogenic aerosols into the CCSM3.1 coupled carbon-climate model and explore the resulting interactions with climate and biogeochemical dynamics through a series of transient anthropogenic simulations (20th and 21st centuries) and sensitivity studies. The inclusion of prognostic aerosols into this model has a small net global cooling effect on climate but does not significantly impact the globally averaged carbon cycle; we argue that this is likely to be because the CCSM3.1 model has a small climate feedback onto the carbon cycle. We propose a mechanism for including desert dust and anthropogenic aerosols into a simple carbon-climate feedback analysis to explain the results of our and previous studies. Inclusion of aerosols has statistically significant impacts on regional climate and biogeochemistry, in particular through the effects on the ocean nitrogen cycle and primary productivity of altered iron inputs from desert dust deposition.

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Contribution of ocean, fossil fuel, land biosphere, and biomass burning carbon fluxes to seasonal and interannual variability in atmospheric CO2

2008-02-12 , Nevison, Cynthia D. , Mahowald, Natalie M. , Doney, Scott C. , Lima, Ivan D. , van der Werf, Guido R. , Randerson, James T. , Baker, David F. , Kasibhatla, Prasad S. , McKinley, Galen A.

Seasonal and interannual variability in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations was simulated using fluxes from fossil fuel, ocean and terrestrial biogeochemical models, and a tracer transport model with time-varying winds. The atmospheric CO2 variability resulting from these surface fluxes was compared to observations from 89 GLOBALVIEW monitoring stations. At northern hemisphere stations, the model simulations captured most of the observed seasonal cycle in atmospheric CO2, with the land tracer accounting for the majority of the signal. The ocean tracer was 3–6 months out of phase with the observed cycle at these stations and had a seasonal amplitude only ∼10% on average of observed. Model and observed interannual CO2 growth anomalies were only moderately well correlated in the northern hemisphere (R ∼ 0.4–0.8), and more poorly correlated in the southern hemisphere (R < 0.6). Land dominated the interannual variability (IAV) in the northern hemisphere, and biomass burning in particular accounted for much of the strong positive CO2 growth anomaly observed during the 1997–1998 El Niño event. The signals in atmospheric CO2 from the terrestrial biosphere extended throughout the southern hemisphere, but oceanic fluxes also exerted a strong influence there, accounting for roughly half of the IAV at many extratropical stations. However, the modeled ocean tracer was generally uncorrelated with observations in either hemisphere from 1979–2004, except during the weak El Niño/post-Pinatubo period of the early 1990s. During that time, model results suggested that the ocean may have accounted for 20–25% of the observed slowdown in the atmospheric CO2 growth rate.