Climate Change and...

Annotated Bibliography

Climate Variability

Vegetation Models

Cowling, Sharon A., Shin, Younglan (2006). Simulated ecosystem threshold responses to co-varying temperature, precipitation and atmospheric CO2 within a region of Amazonia. Global Ecology and Biogeography 15 (6): 553-566

ABSTRACT:Using a Dynamic Global Vegetation Model (DGVM), we assessed the independent and co-varying effects of temperature, precipitation and atmospheric CO2 on nonlinear (threshold) responses in carbon-based processes, and evaluated whether these underlying process thresholds translate to the ecosystem-scale.Amazon Basin, South America.The Lund-Potsdam-Jena model (LPJ) was employed to determine responses in net primary production (NPP), heterotrophic respiration (RH), vegetation carbon (CV), soil carbon (CS), and plant functional type (PFT) composition to variations in temperature (± 9 °C relative to the control), precipitation (up to 80% reduction in rainfall relative to the control) and atmospheric CO2 (± 100 p.p.m.v. relative to the control).Our modelling experiments show that increases in temperature result in lower and steeper NPP and RH curves, indicating a thermal threshold at current temperature conditions. Under a combination of temperature and precipitation change, CV responds more to precipitation, while CS closely follows temperature gradients. Ecosystem thresholds, measured in terms of PFT composition stability, are surprisingly few. Simulations indicate an ecosystem threshold occurring at 80% reduction in rainfall; however, due to modelling limitations, this threshold is likely to occur at earlier drought stress conditions. Further empirical research on abiotic stress tolerance levels in tropical ecosystems must be performed in order to refine PFT descriptions used in DGVMs.In evaluating simulation scenarios that promote major changes in PFT assemblage, we conclude that the 'natural' Amazonian rain forest is resilient to environmental change, particularly to decreases in temperature and precipitation. Determining to what extent anthropogenic pressures have altered this resiliency is of utmost importance in predicting the future fate of the Amazon Basin.

Melillo, J. M., Borchers, J., Chaney, J., Fisher, H., Fox, S., Haxeltine, A., Janetos, A., Kicklighter, D. W., Kittel, T. G. F., Mcguire, A. D., Mckeown, R., Neilson, R., Nemani, R., Ojima, D. S., Painter, T., Pan, Y., Parton, W. J., Pierce, L., Pitelka, L., Prentice, C., Rizzo, B., Rosenbloom, N. A., Running, S., Schimel, D. S., Sitch, S., Smith, T., Woodward, I. (1995). Vegetation ecosystem modeling and analysis project - comparing biogeography and biogeochemistry models in a continental-scale study of terrestrial ecosystem responses to climate-change and CO2 doubling. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 9 (4): 407-437

ABSTRACT: We compare the simulations of three biogeography models (BIOME2, Dynamic Global Phytogeography Model (DOLY)5 and Mapped Atmosphere-Plant Soil System (MAPSS)) and three biogeochemistry models (BIOME-BGC (BioGeochemistry Cycles), CENTURY, and Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM)) for the conterminous United States under contemporary conditions of atmospheric CO2 and climate. We also compare the simulations of these models under doubled CO2 and a range of climate scenarios. For contemporary conditions, the biogeography models successfully simulate the geographic distribution of major vegetation types and have similar estimates of area for forests (42 to 46% of the conterminous United States), grasslands (17 to 27%), savannas (15 to 25%), and shrublands (14 to 18%). The biogeochemistry models estimate similar continental-scale net primary production (NPP; 3125 to 3772 × 1012 g C yr−1 ) and total carbon storage (108 to 118 × 1015 g C) for contemporary conditions. Among the scenarios of doubled CO2 and associated equilibrium climates produced by the three general circulation models (Oregon State University (OSU), Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), and United Kingdom Meteorological Office (UKMO)), all three biogeography models show both gains and losses of total forest area depending on the scenario (between 38 and 53% of conterminous United States area). The only consistent gains in forest area with all three models (BIOME2, DOLY, and MAPSS) were under the GFDL scenario due to large increases in precipitation. MAPSS lost forest area under UKMO, DOLY under OSU, and BIOME2 under both UKMO and OSU. The variability in forest area estimates occurs because the hydrologie cycles of the biogeography models have different sensitivities to increases in temperature and CO2 . However, in general, the biogeography models produced broadly similar results when incorporating both climate change and elevated CO2 concentrations. For these scenarios, the NPP estimated by the biogeochemistry models increases between 2% (BIOME-BGC with UKMO climate) and 35% (TEM with UKMO climate). Changes in total carbon storage range from losses of 33% (BIOME-BGC with UKMO climate) to gains of 16% (TEM with OSU climate). The CENTURY responses of NPP and carbon storage are positive and intermediate to the responses of BIOME-BGC and TEM. The variability in carbon cycle responses occurs because the hydrologie and nitrogen cycles of the biogeochemistry models have different sensitivities to increases in temperature and CO2. When the biogeochemistry models are run with the vegetation distributions of the biogeography models, NPP ranges from no response (BIOME-BGC with all three biogeography model vegetations for UKMO climate) to increases of 40% (TEM with MAPSS vegetation for OSU climate). The total carbon storage response ranges from a decrease of 39% (BIOME-BGC with MAPSS vegetation for UKMO climate) to an increase of 32% (TEM with MAPSS vegetation for OSU and GFDL climates). The UKMO responses of BIOME-BGC with MAPSS vegetation are primarily caused by decreases in forested area and temperature-induced water stress. The OSU and GFDL responses of TEM with MAPSS vegetations are primarily caused by forest expansion and temperature-enhanced nitrogen cycling.

Pan, Y. D., Melillo, J. M., Mcguire, A. D., Kicklighter, D. W., Pitelka, L. F., Hibbard, K., Pierce, L. L., Running, S. W., Ojima, D. S., Parton, W. J., Schimel, D. S. (1998). Modeled responses of terrestrial ecosystems to elevated atmospheric CO2 : a comparison of cimulations by the biogeochemistry models of the Vegetation/Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis Project (VEMAP). Oecologia 114 (3): 389-404

ABSTRACT: Although there is a great deal of information concerning responses to increases in atmospheric CO2 at the tissue and plant levels, there are substantially fewer studies that have investigated ecosystem-level responses in the context of integrated carbon, water, and nutrient cycles. Because our understanding of ecosystem responses to elevated CO2 is incomplete, modeling is a tool that can be used to investigate the role of plant and soil interactions in the response of terrestrial ecosystems to elevated CO2 . In this study, we analyze the responses of net primary production (NPP) to doubled CO2 from 355 to 710 ppmv among three biogeochemistry models in the Vegetation/Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis Project (VEMAP): BIOME-BGC (BioGeochemical Cycles), Century, and the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM). For the conterminous United States, doubled atmospheric CO2 causes NPP to increase by 5% in Century, 8% in TEM, and 11% in BIOME-BGC. Multiple regression analyses between the NPP response to doubled CO2 and the mean annual temperature and annual precipitation of biomes or grid cells indicate that there are negative relationships between precipitation and the response of NPP to doubled CO2 for all three models. In contrast, there are different relationships between temperature and the response of NPP to doubled CO2 for the three models: there is a negative relationship in the responses of BIOME-BGC, no relationship in the responses of Century, and a positive relationship in the responses of TEM. In BIOME-BGC, the NPP response to doubled CO2 is controlled by the change in transpiration associated with reduced leaf conductance to water vapor. This change affects soil water, then leaf area development and, finally, NPP. In Century, the response of NPP to doubled CO2 is controlled by changes in decomposition rates associated with increased soil moisture that results from reduced evapotranspiration. This change affects nitrogen availability for plants, which influences NPP. In TEM, the NPP response to doubled CO2 is controlled by increased carboxylation which is modified by canopy conductance and the degree to which nitrogen constraints cause down-regulation of photosynthesis. The implementation of these different mechanisms has consequences for the spatial pattern of NPP responses, and represents, in part, conceptual uncertainty about controls over NPP responses. Progress in reducing these uncertainties requires research focused at the ecosystem level to understand how interactions between the carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles influence the response of NPP to elevated atmospheric CO2 .

P. M. Cox, R. A. Betts, A. Betts, C. D. Jones, S. A. Spall, I. J. Totterdell (2002). Modelling vegetation and the carbon cycle as interactive elements of the climate system. International Geophysics 83: 259-279

ABSTRACT: The climate system and the global carbon cycle are tightly coupled. Atmospheric carbon in the form of the radiatively active gases, carbon dioxide and methane, plays a significant role in the natural greenhouse effect. The continued increase in the atmospheric concentrations of these gases, due to human emissions, is predicted to lead to significant climatic change over the next 100 years. The best estimates suggest that more than half of the current anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are being absorbed by the ocean and by land ecosystems (Schimel et al., 1995). In both cases the processes involved are sensitive to the climatic conditions. Temperature affects the solubility of carbon dioxide in sea water and the rate of terrestrial and oceanic biological processes. In addition, vegetation is known to respond directly to increased atmospheric CO2 through increased photosynthesis and reduced transpiration (Sellers et al., 1996a; Field et al., 1995), and may also change its structure and distribution in response to any associated climate change (Betts et al., 1997). Thus there is great potential for the biosphere to produce a feedback on the climatic change due to given human emissions.

Despite this, simulations carried out with General Circulation Models (GCMs) have generally neglected the coupling between the climate and the biosphere. Indeed, vegetation distributions have been static and atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have been prescribed based on results from simple carbon cycle models, which neglect the effects of climate change (Enting et al., 1994). This chapter describes the inclusion of vegetation and the carbon cycle as interactive elements in a GCM. The coupled climate-carbon cycle model is able to reproduce key aspects of the observations, including the global distribution of vegetation types, seasonal and zonal variations in ocean primary production, and the interannual variability in atmospheric CO2 . A transient simulation carried out with this model suggests that previously-neglected climate-carbon cycle feedbacks could significantly accelerate atmospheric CO2 rise and climate change over the twenty-first century.

W. Cramer, A. Bondeau, F. I. Woodward, I. C. Prentice, R. A. Betts, V. Brovkin, P. M. Cox, V. Fisher, J. A. Foley, A. D. Friend, C. Kucharik, M. R. Lomas, N. Ramankutty, S. Sitch, B. Smith, A. White, C. Young-Molling (2001). Global response of terrestrial ecosystem structure and function to CO2 and climate change: results from six dynamic global vegetation models. Global Change Biology 7 (4): 357-373

ABSTRACT: The possible responses of ecosystem processes to rising atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate change are illustrated using six dynamic global vegetation models that explicitly represent the interactions of ecosystem carbon and water exchanges with vegetation dynamics. The models are driven by the IPCC IS92a scenario of rising CO2 (Wigley et al. 1991), and by climate changes resulting from effective CO2 concentrations corresponding to IS92a, simulated by the coupled ocean atmosphere model HadCM2-SUL. Simulations with changing CO2 alone show a widely distributed terrestrial carbon sink of 1.4–3.8 Pg C y−1 during the 1990s, rising to 3.7–8.6 Pg C y−1 a century later. Simulations including climate change show a reduced sink both today (0.6–3.0 Pg C y−1 ) and a century later (0.3–6.6 Pg C y−1 ) as a result of the impacts of climate change on NEP of tropical and southern hemisphere ecosystems. In all models, the rate of increase of NEP begins to level off around 2030 as a consequence of the 'diminishing return' of physiological CO2 effects at high CO2 concentrations. Four out of the six models show a further, climate-induced decline in NEP resulting from increased heterotrophic respiration and declining tropical NPP after 2050. Changes in vegetation structure influence the magnitude and spatial pattern of the carbon sink and, in combination with changing climate, also freshwater availability (runoff). It is shown that these changes, once set in motion, would continue to evolve for at least a century even if atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate could be instantaneously stabilized. The results should be considered illustrative in the sense that the choice of CO2 concentration scenario was arbitrary and only one climate model scenario was used. However, the results serve to indicate a range of possible biospheric responses to CO2 and climate change. They reveal major uncertainties about the response of NEP to climate change resulting, primarily, from differences in the way that modelled global NPP responds to a changing climate. The simulations illustrate, however, that the magnitude of possible biospheric influences on the carbon balance requires that this factor is taken into account for future scenarios of atmospheric CO2 and climate change.

T. G. F. Kittel, N. A. Rosenbloom, T. H. Painter, D. S. Schimel (1995). The VEMAP integrated database for modelling United States ecosystem/vegetation sensitivity to climate change. Journal of Biogeography 22 (4/5): 857-862

ABSTRACT: For the Vegetation/Ecosystem Modelling and Analysis Project (VEMAP), we developed a model database of climate, soils and vegetation that was compatible with the requirements of three ecosystem physiology models and three vegetation life-form distribution models. A key constraint was temporal, spatial and physical consistency among data layers to provide these daily or monthly time step models with suitable common inputs for the purpose of model inter-comparison. The database is on a 0.5° latitude/longitude grid for the conterminous United States. The set has both daily and monthly representations of the same long-term climate. Daily temperature and precipitation were stochastically simulated with WGEN and daily solar radiation and humidity empirically estimated with CLIMSIM. We used orographically adjusted precipitation, surface temperature and surface windspeed monthly means to maintain consistency among these fields and with vegetation distribution. Vegetation classes were based on physiognomic and physiological properties that influence biogeochemical dynamics. Soils data include characteristics of the 1-4 dominant soils per cell to account for subgrid variability.

G. E. Rehfeldt, D. E. Ferguson, N. L. Crookston (2008). Quantifying the abundance of co-occurring conifers along Inland Northwest (USA) climate gradients. Ecology 89 (8): 2127-2139

ABSTRACT: The occurrence and abundance of conifers along climate gradients in the Inland Northwest (USA) was assessed using data from 5082 field plots, 81% of which were forested. Analyses using the Random Forests classification tree revealed that the sequential distribution of species along an altitudinal gradient could be predicted with reasonable accuracy from a single climate variable, a growing-season dryness index, calculated from the ratio of degree-days >5°C that accumulate in the frost-free season to the summer precipitation. While the appearance and departure of species in an ascending altitudinal sequence were closely related to the dryness index, the departure was most easily visualized in relation to negative degree-days (degree-days <0°C). The results were in close agreement with the works of descriptive ecologists. A Weibull response function was used to predict from climate variables the abundance and occurrence probabilities of each species, using binned data. The fit of the models was excellent, generally accounting for >90% of the variance among 100 classes.

D. Gerten, S. Schaphoff, U. Haberlandt, W. Lucht, S. Sitch (2004). Terrestrial vegetation and water balance—hydrological evaluation of a dynamic global vegetation model. Journal of Hydrology 286 (1-4): 249-270

ABSTRACT: Earth's vegetation plays a pivotal role in the global water balance. Hence, there is a need to model dynamic interactions and feedbacks between the terrestrial biosphere and the water cycle. Here, the hydrological performance of the Lund–Potsdam–Jena model (LPJ), a prominent dynamic global vegetation model, is evaluated. Models of this type simulate the coupled terrestrial carbon and water cycle, thus they are well suited for investigating biosphere–hydrosphere interactions over large domains. We demonstrate that runoff and evapotranspiration computed by LPJ agree well with respective results from state-of-the-art global hydrological models, while in some regions, runoff is significantly over- or underestimated compared to observations. The direction and magnitude of these biases is largely similar to those from other macro-scale models, rather than specific to LPJ. They are attributable primarily to uncertainties in the climate input data, and to human interventions not considered by the model (e.g. water withdrawal, land cover conversions). Additional model development is required to perform integrated assessments of water exchanges among the biosphere, the hydrosphere, and the anthroposphere. Yet, the LPJ model can now be used to study inter-relations between the world's major vegetation types and the terrestrial water balance. As an example, it is shown that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 content alone would result in pronounced changes in evapotranspiration and runoff for many parts of the world. Although significant, these changes would remain unseen by stand-alone hydrological models, thereby emphasizing the importance of simulating the coupled carbon and water cycle.

N. L. Poff, S. Tokar, P. Johnson (1996). Stream hydrological and ecological responses to climate change assessed with an artificial neural network. Limnology and Oceanography 41 (5): 857-863

ABSTRACT: An artificial neural network (ANN) was used to evaluate the hydrological responses of two streams in the northeastern U.S. having different hydroclimatologies (rainfall and snow + rain) to hypothetical changes in precipitation and thermal regimes associated with climate change. For each stream, historic precipitation and temperature data were used as input to an ANN, which generated a synthetic daily hydrograph with high goodness-of-fit (r2 > 0.80). Four scenarios of climate change were used to evaluate stream responses to climate change: + 25% precipitation, -25% precipitation, 2x the coefficient of variation in precipitation regime, and +3°C average temperature. Responses were expressed in hydrological terms of ecological relevance, including flow variabilitiy, baseflow conditions, and frequency and predictability of floods. Increased average precipitation induced elevated runoff and more frequent high flow events, while decreased precipitation had the opposite effect. Elevated temperature reduced average runoff. Doubled precipitation variability had a large effect on many variables, including average runoff, variability of flow, flooding frequency, and baseflow stability. In general, the rainfall-dominated stream exhibited greater relative response to climate change scenarios than did the snowmelt stream.

S. W. Running, R. R. Nemani (1991). Regional hydrologic and carbon balance responses of forests resulting from potential climate change. Climatic Change 19 (4): 349-368

ABSTRACT: The projected response of coniferous forests to a climatic change scenario of doubled atmospheric CO2 , air temperature of +4 °C, and +10% precipitation was studied using a computer simulation model of forest ecosystem processes. A topographically complex forested region of Montana was simulated to study regional climate change induced forest responses. In general, increases of 10–20% in LAI, and 20–30% in evapotranspiration (ET) and photosynthesis (PSN) were projected. Snowpack duration decreased by 19–69 days depending on location, and growing season length increased proportionally. However, hydrologic outflow, primarily fed by snowmelt in this region, was projected to decrease by as much as 30%, which could virtually dry up rivers and irrigation water in the future. To understand the simulated forest responses, and explore the extent to which these results might apply continentally, seasonal hydrologic partitioning between outflow and ET, PSN, respiration, and net primary production (NPP) were simulated for two contrasting climates of Jacksonville, Florida (hot, wet) and Missoula, Montana (cold, dry). Three forest responses were studied sequentially from; climate change alone, addition of CO2 induced tree physiological responses of -30% stomatal conductance and +30% photosynthetic rates, and finally with a reequilibration of forest leaf area index (LAI), derived by a hydrologic equilibrium theory. NPP was projected to increase 88%, and ET 10%, in Missoula, MT, yet decrease 5% and 16% respectively for Jacksonville, FL, emphasizing the contrasting forest responses possible with future climatic change.

Crookston, N. L., Rehfeldt, G. E., Ferguson, D. E., Warwell, M. V. (2008). FVS and global warming: a prospectus for future development. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 7-16

ABSTRACT: Climate change-global warming and changes in precipitation-will cause changes in tree growth rates, mortality rates, the distribution of tree species, competition, and species interactions. An implicit assumption in FVS is that site quality will remain the same as it was during the time period observations used to calibrate the component models were made and that the site quality will not be affected by climate change. This paper presents evidence of the impacts of climate change on forests and argues that FVS needs to be revised to account for these changes. The changes include modification of the growth, mortality, and regeneration establishment models, all of which need to account for changes in site quality and genetic adaptation. Criteria for modifying the model recognize that the model’s applications and uses will not diminish and need to be supported. The new process, climate change, needs to be recognized by the model because it influences all of the processes FVS currently represents. Plans are being made to address this major task.

J. M. Lenihan, R. Drapek, D. Bachelet, R. P. Neilson (2003). Climate change effects on vegetation distribution, carbon, and fire in California. Ecologcial Applications 13 (6): 1667-1681

ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to dynamically simulate the response of vegetation distribution, carbon, and fire to the historical climate and to two contrasting scenarios of climate change in California. The results of the simulations for the historical climate compared favorably to independent estimates and observations, but validation of the results was complicated by the lack of land use effects in the model. The response to increasing temperatures under both scenarios was characterized by a shift in dominance from needle-leaved to broad-leaved life-forms and by increases in vegetation productivity, especially in the relatively cool and mesic regions of the state. The simulated response to changes in precipitation were complex, involving not only the effect of changes in soil moisture on vegetation productivity, but also changes in tree–grass competition mediated by fire. Summer months were warmer and persistently dry under both scenarios, so the trends in simulated fire area under both scenarios were primarily a response to changes in vegetation biomass. Total ecosystem carbon increased under both climate scenarios, but the proportions allocated to the wood and grass carbon pools differed. The results of the simulations underscore the potentially large impact of climate change on California ecosystems, and the need for further use and development of dynamic vegetation models using various ensembles of climate change scenarios.

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