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Robust dynamics of Amazon dieback to climate change with perturbed ecosystem model parameters

Authors


Benjamin Poulter, tel. +41 44 739 21 11, fax +41 44 739 22 15, e-mail: Benjamin.Poulter@wsl.ch

Abstract

Climate change science is increasingly concerned with methods for managing and integrating sources of uncertainty from emission storylines, climate model projections, and ecosystem model parameterizations. In tropical ecosystems, regional climate projections and modeled ecosystem responses vary greatly, leading to a significant source of uncertainty in global biogeochemical accounting and possible future climate feedbacks. Here, we combine an ensemble of IPCC-AR4 climate change projections for the Amazon Basin (eight general circulation models) with alternative ecosystem parameter sets for the dynamic global vegetation model, LPJmL. We evaluate LPJmL simulations of carbon stocks and fluxes against flux tower and aboveground biomass datasets for individual sites and the entire basin. Variability in LPJmL model sensitivity to future climate change is primarily related to light and water limitations through biochemical and water-balance-related parameters. Temperature-dependent parameters related to plant respiration and photosynthesis appear to be less important than vegetation dynamics (and their parameters) for determining the magnitude of ecosystem response to climate change. Variance partitioning approaches reveal that relationships between uncertainty from ecosystem dynamics and climate projections are dependent on geographic location and the targeted ecosystem process. Parameter uncertainty from the LPJmL model does not affect the trajectory of ecosystem response for a given climate change scenario and the primary source of uncertainty for Amazon ‘dieback’ results from the uncertainty among climate projections. Our approach for describing uncertainty is applicable for informing and prioritizing policy options related to mitigation and adaptation where long-term investments are required.

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