A New Paper on the Role of Vegetation Dynamics in the Climate System

As we discussed in our weblogs of October 14 and September 12, for example, vegetation dynamics exerts a major effect on the climate system. A new paper has just appeared in the Journal of Climate which provides further support to this perspective entitled “Simulated and Observed Preindustrial to Modern Vegetation and Climate Changes” by Notaro et al. An extract from the conclusions state

“A fully coupled atmosphere-ocean-land-surface model with dynamic vegetation has been used here to simulate changes in climate and vegetation due to rising CO2 from preindustrial to modern times, as well as to diagnose the separate radiative and physiological effects. The model reproduced broad aspects of the natural (excluding land use) biome distribution as well as seasonal shifts in vegetation, despite overprediction of forest in many areas and an excessive simulated area of polar desert. Despite its biases, the fully coupled model represents an advance compared with models of intermediate complexity (e.g., Brovkin et al. 2002) in simulating a wide range of feedbacks among the atmosphere, biosphere, ocean, and cryosphere, including biogeophysical feedbacks associated with the effects of CO2 on plant physiology.”

Also, that

“In addition, the observed climate and vegetation records contain signatures of the effects of anthropogenic land use and aerosols, making it difficult to determine the specific impact of rising carbon dioxide levels and climate change. ”

This paper provides additional evidence of the complexity of the climate system response to the diversity of human-caused and natural climate forcings.

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