Sensitivity of the terrestrial biosphere to climatic changes: Impact on the carbon cycle
Earth and related Environmental sciences
carbon dioxide fixation
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The biosphere is a major pool in the global carbon cycle; its response to climatic change is therefore of great importance. We developed a 5° × 5° longitude-latitude resolution model of the biosphere in which the global distributions of the major biospheric variables, i.e. the vegetation types and the main carbon pools and fluxes, are determined from climatic variables. We defined nine major broad vegetation types: perennial ice, desert and semi-desert, tundra, coniferous forest, temperate deciduous forest, grassland and shrubland, savannah, seasonal tropical forest and evergreen tropical forest. Their geographical repartition is parameterized using correlations between observed vegetation type, precipitation and biotemperature distributions. The model computes as a function of climate and vegetation type, the variables related to the continental biospheric carbon cycle, i.e. the carbon pools such as the phytomass, the litter and the soil organic carbon; and carbon fluxes such as net primary production, litter production and heterotrophic respiration. The modeled present-day biosphere is in good agreement with observation. The model is used to investigate the response of the terrestrial biosphere to climatic changes as predicted by different General Circulation Models (GCM). In particular, the impact on the biosphere of climatic conditions corresponding to the last glacial climate (LGM), 18 000 years ago, is investigated. Comparison with results from present-day climate simulations shows the high sensitivity of the geographical distribution of vegetation types and carbon content as well as biospheric trace gases emissions to climatic changes. The general trend for LGM compared to the present is an increase in low density vegetation types (tundra, desert, grassland) to the detriment of forested areas, in tropical as well as in other regions. Consequently, the biospheric activity (carbon fluxes and trace gases emissions) was reduced.
CitationFriedlingstein, P.; Müller, J.-F.; Brasseur, G.P. (1994). Sensitivity of the terrestrial biosphere to climatic changes: Impact on the carbon cycle. , Environmental Pollution, Vol. 83, Issue 1-2, 143-147, DOI: 10.1016/0269-7491(94)90032-9.