Consequences of considering carbon–nitrogen interactions on the feedbacks between climate and the terrestrial carbon cycle
Sokolov, Andrei P.
Kicklighter, David W.
Melillo, Jerry M.
Felzer, Benjamin S.
Schlosser, C. Adam
Cronin, Timothy W.
MetadataShow full item record
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.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2008. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Climate 21 (2008): 3776–3796, doi:10.1175/2008JCLI2038.1.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
McNichol, Ann P. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1986-09)A study of the remineralization of organic carbon was conducted in the organic-rich sediments of Buzzards Bay, MA. Major processes affecting the carbon chemistry in sediments are reflected by changes in the stable carbon ...
Dilling, Lisa; Doney, Scott C.; Edmonds, Jae; Gurney, Kevin R.; Harriss, Robert; Schimel, David S.; Stephens, Britton B.; Stokes, Gerald (Annual Reviews, 2003-08-14)Agriculture and industrial development have led to inadvertent changes in the natural carbon cycle. As a consequence, concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have increased in the atmosphere and may ...
Hilton, Robert G.; Galy, Valier; Gaillardet, Jerome; Dellinger, Mathieu; Bryant, Charlotte; O'Regan, Matt; Grocke, Darren R.; Coxall, Helen; Bouchez, Julien; Calmels, Damien (2015-05-12)Soils of the northern high latitudes store carbon over millennial timescales (103 yrs) and contain approximately double the carbon stock of the atmosphere1-3. Warming and associated permafrost thaw can expose soil organic ...