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Keywords:

  • land cover dynamics;
  • Earth system modeling;
  • land use change;
  • dynamic vegetation model

[1] The purpose of this paper is to give a rather comprehensive description of the models for natural and anthropogenically driven changes in biogeography as implemented in the land component JSBACH of the Max Planck Institute Earth system model (MPI-ESM). The model for natural land cover change (DYNVEG) features two types of competition: between the classes of grasses and woody types (trees, shrubs) controlled by disturbances (fire, windthrow) and within those vegetation classes between different plant functional types based on relative net primary productivity advantages. As part of this model, the distribution of land unhospitable to vegetation (hot and cold deserts) is determined dynamically from plant productivity under the prevailing climate conditions. The model for anthropogenic land cover change implements the land use transition approach by Hurtt et al. (2006). Our implementation is based on the assumption that historically pastures have been preferentially established on former grasslands (“pasture rule”). We demonstrate that due to the pasture rule, deforestation reduces global forest area between 1850 and 2005 by 15% less than without. Because of the pasture rule the land cover distribution depends on the full history of land use transitions. This has implications for the dynamics of natural land cover change because assumptions must be made on how agriculturalists react to a changing natural vegetation in their environment. A separate model representing this process has been developed so that natural and anthropogenic land cover change can be simulated consistently. Certain aspects of our model implementation are illustrated by selected results from the recent CMIP5 simulations.