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Intensified human activity and a growing population have changed the climate and the land biosphere. One of the most widely recognized human perturbations is the emission of carbon dioxide (C02) by fossil fuel burning and land-use change. As the terrestrial biosphere is an active player in the global carbon cycle, changes in land use feed back to the climate of the Earth through regulation of the content of atmospheric CO2, the most important greenhouse gas,and changing albedo (e.g., energy partitioning).

Recently, the climate modeling community has started to develop more complex Earthsystem models that include marine and terrestrial biogeochemical processes in addition to the representation of atmospheric and oceanic circulation. However, most terrestrial biosphere models simulate only natural, or so-called potential, vegetation and do not account for managed ecosystems such as croplands and pastures, which make up nearly one-third of the Earth's land surface.