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WETCHIMP-WSL: intercomparison of wetland methane emissions models over West Siberia

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Wetlands are the world's largest natural source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The strong sensitivity of methane emissions to environmental factors such as soil temperature and moisture has led

Wetlands are the world's largest natural source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The strong sensitivity of methane emissions to environmental factors such as soil temperature and moisture has led to concerns about potential positive feedbacks to climate change. This risk is particularly relevant at high latitudes, which have experienced pronounced warming and where thawing permafrost could potentially liberate large amounts of labile carbon over the next 100 years. However, global models disagree as to the magnitude and spatial distribution of emissions, due to uncertainties in wetland area and emissions per unit area and a scarcity of in situ observations. Recent intensive field campaigns across the West Siberian Lowland (WSL) make this an ideal region over which to assess the performance of large-scale process-based wetland models in a high-latitude environment. Here we present the results of a follow-up to the Wetland and Wetland CH[subscript 4] Intercomparison of Models Project (WETCHIMP), focused on the West Siberian Lowland (WETCHIMP-WSL). We assessed 21 models and 5 inversions over this domain in terms of total CH[subscript 4] emissions, simulated wetland areas, and CH[subscript 4] fluxes per unit wetland area and compared these results to an intensive in situ CH[subscript 4] flux data set, several wetland maps, and two satellite surface water products. We found that (a) despite the large scatter of individual estimates, 12-year mean estimates of annual total emissions over the WSL from forward models (5.34 ± 0.54 Tg CH[subscript 4] yr[superscript −1]), inversions (6.06 ± 1.22 Tg CH[subscript 4] yr[superscript −1]), and in situ observations (3.91 ± 1.29 Tg CH[subscript 4] yr[superscript −1]) largely agreed; (b) forward models using surface water products alone to estimate wetland areas suffered from severe biases in CH[subscript 4] emissions; (c) the interannual time series of models that lacked either soil thermal physics appropriate to the high latitudes or realistic emissions from unsaturated peatlands tended to be dominated by a single environmental driver (inundation or air temperature), unlike those of inversions and more sophisticated forward models; (d) differences in biogeochemical schemes across models had relatively smaller influence over performance; and (e) multiyear or multidecade observational records are crucial for evaluating models' responses to long-term climate change.

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  • 2015-06-03

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Assessment of model estimates of land-atmosphere CO2 exchange across Northern Eurasia

Description

A warming climate is altering land-atmosphere exchanges of carbon, with a potential for increased vegetation productivity as well as the mobilization of permafrost soil carbon stores. Here we investigate land-atmosphere

A warming climate is altering land-atmosphere exchanges of carbon, with a potential for increased vegetation productivity as well as the mobilization of permafrost soil carbon stores. Here we investigate land-atmosphere carbon dioxide (CO[superscript 2]) cycling through analysis of net ecosystem productivity (NEP) and its component fluxes of gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER) and soil carbon residence time, simulated by a set of land surface models (LSMs) over a region spanning the drainage basin of Northern Eurasia. The retrospective simulations cover the period 1960–2009 at 0.5° resolution, which is a scale common among many global carbon and climate model simulations. Model performance benchmarks were drawn from comparisons against both observed CO[superscript 2] fluxes derived from site-based eddy covariance measurements as well as regional-scale GPP estimates based on satellite remote-sensing data. The site-based comparisons depict a tendency for overestimates in GPP and ER for several of the models, particularly at the two sites to the south. For several models the spatial pattern in GPP explains less than half the variance in the MODIS MOD17 GPP product. Across the models NEP increases by as little as 0.01 to as much as 0.79 g C m[superscript −2] yr[superscript −2], equivalent to 3 to 340 % of the respective model means, over the analysis period. For the multimodel average the increase is 135 % of the mean from the first to last 10 years of record (1960–1969 vs. 2000–2009), with a weakening CO[superscript 2] sink over the latter decades. Vegetation net primary productivity increased by 8 to 30 % from the first to last 10 years, contributing to soil carbon storage gains. The range in regional mean NEP among the group is twice the multimodel mean, indicative of the uncertainty in CO[superscript 2] sink strength. The models simulate that inputs to the soil carbon pool exceeded losses, resulting in a net soil carbon gain amid a decrease in residence time. Our analysis points to improvements in model elements controlling vegetation productivity and soil respiration as being needed for reducing uncertainty in land-atmosphere CO[superscript 2] exchange. These advances will require collection of new field data on vegetation and soil dynamics, the development of benchmarking data sets from measurements and remote-sensing observations, and investments in future model development and intercomparison studies.

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Date Created
  • 2015-07-28