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Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model

Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model
Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model
The continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide due to anthropogenic emissions is predicted to lead to significant changes in climate. About half of the current emissions are being absorbed by the ocean and by land ecosystems, but this absorption is sensitive to climate as well as to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, creating a feedback loop. General circulation models have generally excluded the feedback between climate and the biosphere, using static vegetation distributions and CO2 concentrations from simple carbon-cycle models that do not include climate change. Here we present results from a fully coupled, three-dimensional carbon–climate model, indicating that carbon-cycle feedbacks could significantly accelerate climate change over the twenty-first century. We find that under a 'business as usual' scenario, the terrestrial biosphere acts as an overall carbon sink until about 2050, but turns into a source thereafter. By 2100, the ocean uptake rate of 5 Gt C yr-1 is balanced by the terrestrial carbon source, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations are 250 p.p.m.v. higher in our fully coupled simulation than in uncoupled carbon models, resulting in a global-mean warming of 5.5 K, as compared to 4 K without the carbon-cycle feedback.
CLIMATIC CHANGES, CARBON CYCLE, COUPLED MODEL, CARBON DIOXIDE, ANTHROPOGENIC FACTORS, MAN INDUCED CHANGES, METEOROLOGY
0028-0836
184-187
Cox, P.M.
c4f04308-dda1-47c5-92b4-011d51a79644
Betts, R.A.
35e34ef2-01b3-4dca-9ff9-336366994288
Jones, C.D.
97a7df1a-f0e1-4835-b7ea-5493bd1bfa73
Spall, S.A.
86582278-2827-4cab-9ba0-501b7a57189d
Totterdell, I.J.
aa4619a0-1b39-4b1b-8633-f416c6063817
Cox, P.M.
c4f04308-dda1-47c5-92b4-011d51a79644
Betts, R.A.
35e34ef2-01b3-4dca-9ff9-336366994288
Jones, C.D.
97a7df1a-f0e1-4835-b7ea-5493bd1bfa73
Spall, S.A.
86582278-2827-4cab-9ba0-501b7a57189d
Totterdell, I.J.
aa4619a0-1b39-4b1b-8633-f416c6063817

Cox, P.M., Betts, R.A., Jones, C.D., Spall, S.A. and Totterdell, I.J. (2000) Acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model. Nature, 408 (6809), 184-187. (doi:10.1038/35041539).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide due to anthropogenic emissions is predicted to lead to significant changes in climate. About half of the current emissions are being absorbed by the ocean and by land ecosystems, but this absorption is sensitive to climate as well as to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, creating a feedback loop. General circulation models have generally excluded the feedback between climate and the biosphere, using static vegetation distributions and CO2 concentrations from simple carbon-cycle models that do not include climate change. Here we present results from a fully coupled, three-dimensional carbon–climate model, indicating that carbon-cycle feedbacks could significantly accelerate climate change over the twenty-first century. We find that under a 'business as usual' scenario, the terrestrial biosphere acts as an overall carbon sink until about 2050, but turns into a source thereafter. By 2100, the ocean uptake rate of 5 Gt C yr-1 is balanced by the terrestrial carbon source, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations are 250 p.p.m.v. higher in our fully coupled simulation than in uncoupled carbon models, resulting in a global-mean warming of 5.5 K, as compared to 4 K without the carbon-cycle feedback.

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More information

Published date: 2000
Keywords: CLIMATIC CHANGES, CARBON CYCLE, COUPLED MODEL, CARBON DIOXIDE, ANTHROPOGENIC FACTORS, MAN INDUCED CHANGES, METEOROLOGY

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 7813
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/7813
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: e8b7ad90-88e9-4af0-a74f-0a26670662c2

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Date deposited: 30 Jun 2004
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 17:14

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Contributors

Author: P.M. Cox
Author: R.A. Betts
Author: C.D. Jones
Author: S.A. Spall
Author: I.J. Totterdell

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