CRESCENDO publications

The dry season intensity as a key driver of NPP trends

Murray-Tortarolo, G; Friedlingstein, P; Sitch, S; Seneviratne, SI; Fletcher, I; Mueller, B; Greve, P; Anav, A; Liu, Y; Ahlstrom, A; Huntingford, C; Levis, S; Levy, P; Lomas, M; Poulter, B; Viovy, N; Zaehle, S; Zeng, N.  Geophysical Research Letters, Volume43, Issue6, 2016, Pages 2632-2639.

Abstract: We analyze the impacts of changing dry season length and intensity on vegetation productivity and biomass. Our results show a wetness asymmetry in dry ecosystems, with dry seasons becoming drier and wet seasons becoming wetter, likely caused by climate change. The increasingly intense dry seasons were consistently correlated with a decreasing trend in net primary productivity (NPP) and biomass from different products and could potentially mean a reduction of 10–13% in NPP by 2100. We found that annual NPP in dry ecosystems is particularly sensitive to the intensity of the dry season, whereas an increase in precipitation during the wet season has a smaller effect. We conclude that changes in water availability over the dry season affect vegetation throughout the whole year, driving changes in regional NPP. Moreover, these results suggest that usage of seasonal water fluxes is necessary to improve our understanding of the link between water availability and the land carbon cycle.

Is land surface processes representation a possible weak link in current Regional Climate Models?

Davin, EL; Maisonnave, E; Seneviratne, SI. Environmental Research Letters, Volume 11, Number 7. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/7/074027

Abstract: The representation of land surface processes and fluxes in climate models critically affects the simulation of near-surface climate over land. Here we present an evaluation of COSMO-CLM2, a model which couples the COSMO-CLM Regional Climate Model to the Community Land Model (CLM4.0). CLM4.0 provides a more detailed representation of land processes compared to the native land surface scheme in COSMO-CLM. We perform historical reanalysis-driven simulations over Europe with COSMO-CLM2 following the EURO-CORDEX intercomparison protocol. We then evaluate simulations performed with COSMO-CLM2, the standard COSMO-CLM and other EURO-CORDEX RCMs against various observational datasets of temperature, precipitation and surface fluxes. Overall, the results indicate that COSMO-CLM2 outperforms both the standard COSMO-CLM and the other EURO-CORDEX models in simulating sensible, latent and surface radiative fluxes as well as 2-meter temperature across different seasons and regions. The performance improvement is particularly strong for turbulent fluxes and for daily maximum temperatures and more modest for daily minimum temperature, suggesting that land surface processes affect daytime even more than nighttime conditions. COSMO-CLM2 also alleviates a long-standing issue of overestimation of interannual summer temperature variability present in most EURO-CORDEX RCMs. Finally, we show that several factors contribute to these improvements, including the representation of evapotranspiration, radiative fluxes and ground heat flux. Overall, these results demonstrate that land processes represent a key area of development to tackle current deficiencies in RCMs.

Impact of Stratospheric Volcanic Aerosols on Age-of-Air and Transport of Long-Lived Species

Pitari, G.; Cionni, I.; Di Genova, G.; Visioni, D.; Gandolfi, I.; Mancini, E. Atmosphere2016, 7, 149.

Global assessment of heat wave magnitudes from 1901 to 2010 and implications for the river discharge of the Alps

Zampieri, M; Russo, S; di Sabatino, S; Michetti, M; Scoccimarro, E; Gualdi, S. 2016 Science of The Total Environment Volume 571, 15 November 2016, Pages 1330-1339,


The 20th Century Reanalyses allow identifying of several undocumented heat waves of the past.
Recently, significant heat wave patterns have emerged on a global scale.
Water availability in Europe may decline in the future.

Poorest countries experience earlier anthropogenic emergence of daily temperature extremes

Luke J Harrington, David J Frame, Erich M Fischer, Ed Hawkins, Manoj Joshi and Chris D Jones. 2016 Environ. Res. Lett. 11 055007,  doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/055007

Abstract: Understanding how the emergence of the anthropogenic warming signal from the noise of internal variability translates to changes in extreme event occurrence is of crucial societal importance. By utilising simulations of cumulative carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and temperature changes from eleven earth system models, we demonstrate that the inherently lower internal variability found at tropical latitudes results in large increases in the frequency of extreme daily temperatures (exceedances of the 99.9th percentile derived from pre-industrial climate simulations) occurring much earlier than for mid-to-high latitude regions. Most of the world’s poorest people live at low latitudes, when considering 2010 GDP-PPP per capita; conversely the wealthiest population quintile disproportionately inhabit more variable mid-latitude climates. Consequently, the fraction of the global population in the lowest socio-economic quintile is exposed to substantially more frequent daily temperature extremes after much lower increases in both mean global warming and cumulative CO2 emissions. Video Abstract:

Global Carbon Budget 2016

Corinne Le Quéré, Robbie M. Andrew, Josep G. Canadell, Stephen Sitch, Jan Ivar Korsbakken, Glen P. Peters, et al. Earth Syst. Sci. Data 2016, 8, 605-649, doi:10.5194/essd-8-605-2016

Short summary: The Global Carbon Budget 2016 is the 11th annual update of emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and their partitioning among the atmosphere, land, and ocean. This data synthesis brings together measurements, statistical information, and analyses of model results in order to provide an assessment of the global carbon budget and their uncertainties for years 1959 to 2015, with a projection for year 2016.

Coastal-ocean uptake of anthropogenic carbon

Timothée Bourgeois, James C. Orr, Laure Resplandy, Jens Terhaar, Christian Ethé, Marion Gehlen, and Laurent Bopp. Biogeosciences 2016, 13, 4167–4185, doi:10.5194/bg-13-4167-2016

Short summary: The global coastal ocean took up 0.1 Pg C yr−1 of anthropogenic carbon during 1993–2012 based on new biogeochemical simulations with an eddying 3-D global model. That is about half of the most recent estimate, an extrapolation based on surface areas. It should not be confused with the continental shelf pump, perhaps 10 times larger, which includes natural as well as anthropogenic carbon. Coastal uptake of anthropogenic carbon is limited by its offshore transport.

The Scenario Model Intercomparison Project (ScenarioMIP) for CMIP6

Brian C. O’Neill, Claudia Tebaldi, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Veronika Eyring, Pierre Friedlingstein, George Hurtt, Reto Knutti, Elmar Kriegler, Jean-Francois Lamarque, Jason Lowe, Gerald A. Meehl, Richard Moss, Keywan Riahi, and Benjamin M. Sanderson. Geosci. Model Dev. 2016, 9, 3461-3482, doi:10.5194/gmd-9-3461-2016

Short summary: The Scenario Model Intercomparison Project (ScenarioMIP) will provide multi-model climate projections based on alternative scenarios of future emissions and land use changes produced with integrated assessment models. The design consists of eight alternative 21st century scenarios plus one large initial condition ensemble and a set of long-term extensions. Climate model projections will facilitate integrated studies of climate change as well as address targeted scientific questions.

Towards improved and more routine Earth system model evaluation in CMIP

Veronika Eyring, Peter J. Gleckler, Christoph Heinze, Ronald J. Stouffer, Karl E. Taylor, V. Balaji, Eric Guilyardi, Sylvie Joussaume, Stephan Kindermann, Bryan N. Lawrence, Gerald A. Meehl, Mattia Righi, and Dean N. Williams. Earth Syst. Dynam. 2016, 7, 813-830, doi:10.5194/esd-7-813-2016

Short summary: We argue that the CMIP community has reached a critical juncture at which many baseline aspects of model evaluation need to be performed much more efficiently to enable a systematic and rapid performance assessment of the large number of models participating in CMIP, and we announce our intention to implement such a system for CMIP6. At the same time, continuous scientific research is required to develop innovative metrics and diagnostics that help narrowing the spread in climate projections.

Research priorities for negative emissions

S Fuss, C D Jones, F Kraxner, G P Peters, P Smith, M Tavoni, D P van Vuuren, J G Canadell, R B Jackson, J Milne, J R Moreira, N Nakicenovic, A Sharifi and Y Yamagata. 2016 Environ. Res. Lett. 11 115007 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/11/115007

Abstract: Carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere (CDR)—also known as ‘negative emissions’—features prominently in most 2 °C scenarios and has been under increased scrutiny by scientists, citizens, and policymakers. Critics argue that ‘negative emission technologies’ (NETs) are insufficiently mature to rely on them for climate stabilization. Some even argue that 2 °C is no longer feasible or might have unacceptable social and environmental costs. Nonetheless, the Paris Agreement endorsed an aspirational goal of limiting global warming to even lower levels, arguing that climate impacts—especially for vulnerable nations such as small island states—will be unacceptably severe in a 2 °C world. While there are few pathways to 2 °C that do not rely on negative emissions, 1.5 °C scenarios are barely conceivable without them. Building on previous assessments of NETs, we identify some urgent research needs to provide a more complete picture for reaching ambitious climate targets, and the role that NETs can play in reaching them.

Human-induced greening of the northern extratropical land surface

Jiafu Mao, Aurélien Ribes, Binyan Yan, Xiaoying Shi1 Peter E. Thornton, Roland Séférian, Philippe Ciais et al. Nature Climate Change Volume:6, Pages:959–963 Year published:(2016) DOI:doi:10.1038/nclimate3056

At a glance: Significant land greening in the northern extratropical latitudes (NEL) has been documented through satellite observations during the past three decades. This enhanced vegetation growth has broad implications for surface energy, water and carbon budgets, and ecosystem services across multiple scales. Discernible human impacts on the Earth’s climate system have been revealed by using statistical frameworks of detection–attribution. These impacts, however, were not previously identified on the NEL greening signal, owing to the lack of long-term observational records, possible bias of satellite data, different algorithms used to calculate vegetation greenness, and the lack of suitable simulations from coupled Earth system models (ESMs). Here we have overcome these challenges to attribute recent changes in NEL vegetation activity. We used two 30-year-long remote-sensing-based leaf area index (LAI) data sets, simulations from 19 coupled ESMs with interactive vegetation, and a formal detection and attribution algorithm. Our findings reveal that the observed greening record is consistent with an assumption of anthropogenic forcings, where greenhouse gases play a dominant role, but is not consistent with simulations that include only natural forcings and internal climate variability. These results provide the first clear evidence of a discernible human fingerprint on physiological vegetation changes other than phenology and range shifts.

Projected land photosynthesis constrained by changes in the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2

Sabrina Wenzel, Peter M. Cox, Veronika Eyring & Pierre Friedlingstein. Nature (2016) doi:10.1038/nature19772. Published online 28 September 2016

At a glance: Uncertainties in the response of vegetation to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations contribute to the large spread in projections of future climate change. Climate–carbon cycle models generally agree that elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations will enhance terrestrial gross primary productivity (GPP). However, the magnitude of this CO2 fertilization effect varies from a 20 per cent to a 60 per cent increase in GPP for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations in model studies. Here we demonstrate emergent constraints on large-scale CO2 fertilization using observed changes in the amplitude of the atmospheric CO2 seasonal cycle that are thought to be the result of increasing terrestrial GPP. Our comparison of atmospheric CO2 measurements from Point Barrow in Alaska and Cape Kumukahi in Hawaii with historical simulations of the latest climate–carbon cycle models demonstrates that the increase in the amplitude of the CO2 seasonal cycle at both measurement sites is consistent with increasing annual mean GPP, driven in part by climate warming, but with differences in CO2 fertilization controlling the spread among the model trends. As a result, the relationship between the amplitude of the CO2 seasonal cycle and the magnitude of CO2 fertilization of GPP is almost linear across the entire ensemble of models. When combined with the observed trends in the seasonal CO2 amplitude, these relationships lead to consistent emergent constraints on the CO2 fertilization of GPP. Overall, we estimate a GPP increase of 37 ± 9 per cent for high-latitude ecosystems and 32 ± 9 per cent for extratropical ecosystems under a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations on the basis of the Point Barrow and Cape Kumukahi records, respectively.

C4MIP – The Coupled Climate-Carbon Cycle Model Intercomparicon project: experimental protocol for CMIP6

CD. Jones, V Arora, P Friedlingstein, L Bopp, V Brovkin et al. Geosci. Model Dev. 9, 2853-2880. Published: 16 Mar 2016, doi:10.5194/gmd-2016-36

Short summary: How the carbon cycle interacts with climate will affect future climate change and how society plans emissions reductions to achieve climate targets. The Coupled Climate Carbon Cycle Model Intercomparison Project (C4MIP) is an endorsed activity of CMIP6 and aims to quantify these interactions and feedbacks in state-of-the-art climate models. This paper lays out the experimental protocol for modelling groups to follow to contribute to C4MIP. It is a contribution to the CMIP6 GMD special issue.

Simulating the Earth system response to negative emissions

C D Jones, P Ciais, S J Davis, P Friedlingstein, T Gasser, G P Peters, J Rogelj, D P van Vuuren, J G Canadell, A Cowie, R B Jackson, M Jonas, E Kriegler, E Littleton, J A Lowe, J Milne, G Shrestha, P Smith, A Torvanger and A Wiltshire (2016). Environmental Research Letters, 11: 095012

Abstract: Natural carbon sinks currently absorb approximately half of the anthropogenic CO2 emitted by fossil fuel burning, cement production and land-use change. However, this airborne fraction may change in the future depending on the emissions scenario. An important issue in developing carbon budgets to achieve climate stabilisation targets is the behaviour of natural carbon sinks, particularly under low emissions mitigation scenarios as required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. A key requirement for low carbon pathways is to quantify the effectiveness of negative emissions technologies which will be strongly affected by carbon cycle feedbacks. Here we find that Earth system models suggest significant weakening, even potential reversal, of the ocean and land sinks under future low emission scenarios. For the RCP2.6 concentration pathway, models project land and ocean sinks to weaken to 0.8 ± 0.9 and 1.1 ± 0.3 GtC yr−1 respectively for the second half of the 21st century and to −0.4 ± 0.4 and 0.1 ± 0.2 GtC yr−1 respectively for the second half of the 23rd century. Weakening of natural carbon sinks will hinder the effectiveness of negative emissions technologies and therefore increase their required deployment to achieve a given climate stabilisation target. We introduce a new metric, the perturbation airborne fraction, to measure and assess the effectiveness of negative emissions.

Inconsistent strategies to spin up models in CMIP5: implications for ocean biogeochemical model performance assessment

R Séférian, M Gehlen, L Bopp, L Resplandy, JC Orr, et al. – Geosci. Model Dev., 9, 1827-1851, 2016

Short summary: This paper explores how the large diversity in spin-up protocols used for ocean biogeochemistry in CMIP5 models contributed to inter-model differences in modeled fields. We show that a link between spin-up duration and skill-score metrics emerges from both individual IPSL-CM5A-LR’s results and an ensemble of CMIP5 models. Our study suggests that differences in spin-up protocols constitute a source of inter-model uncertainty which would require more attention in future intercomparison exercises.

Decadal predictions of the North Atlantic CO2 uptake

Hongmei Li, Tatiana Ilyina, Wolfgang A. Müller & Frank Sienz – Nature Communications 7, Article number:11076 doi:10.1038/ncomms11076

Abstract: As a major CO2 sink, the North Atlantic, especially its subpolar gyre region, is essential for the global carbon cycle. Decadal fluctuations of CO2 uptake in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre region are associated with the evolution of the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, ocean mixing and sea surface temperature anomalies. While variations in the physical state of the ocean can be predicted several years in advance by initialization of Earth system models, predictability of CO2 uptake has remained unexplored. Here we investigate the predictability of CO2 uptake variations by initialization of the MPI-ESM decadal prediction system. We find large multi-year variability in oceanic CO2 uptake and demonstrate that its potential predictive skill in the western subpolar gyre region is up to 4–7 years. The predictive skill is mainly maintained in winter and is attributed to the improved physical state of the ocean.

Evaluating CMIP5 ocean biogeochemistry and Southern Ocean carbon uptake using atmospheric potential oxygen: Present‐day performance and future projection

CD Nevison, M Manizza, RF Keeling et al. – Geophysical Research Letters, 2016 – Volume 43, Issue 5, 16 March 2016 Pages 2077–2085 DOI: 10.1002/2015GL067584

Abstract: Observed seasonal cycles in atmospheric potential oxygen (APO ~ O2 + 1.1 CO2) were used to evaluate eight ocean biogeochemistry models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Model APO seasonal cycles were computed from the CMIP5 air-sea O2 and CO2 fluxes and compared to observations at three Southern Hemisphere monitoring sites. Four of the models captured either the observed APO seasonal amplitude or phasing relatively well, while the other four did not. Many models had an unrealistic seasonal phasing or amplitude of the CO2 flux, which in turn influenced APO. By 2100 under RCP8.5, the models projected little change in the O2 component of APO but large changes in the seasonality of the CO2 component associated with ocean acidification. The models with poorer performance on present-day APO tended to project larger net carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean, both today and in 2100.

Soil frost-induced soil moisture precipitation feedback over high northern latitudes

Stefan Hagemann, Tanja Blome, Altug Ekici, and Christian Beer – Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 611-625, 2016

Short summary: The present study analyzes how cold region physical soil processes, especially freezing of soil water, impact large-scale hydrology and climate over northern hemisphere high latitude land areas. For this analysis, an atmosphere/land global climate model was used. It is shown that including these processes in the model leads to improved discharge in spring and a positive land atmosphere feedback to precipitation over the high latitudes that has previously not been noted for the high latitudes.