Simulated resilience of tropical rainforests to CO2-induced climate change

Huntingford, Chris, Zelazowski, Przemyslaw, Galbraith, David, Mercado, Lina M., Sitch, Stephen, Fisher, Rosie, Lomas, Mark, Walker, Anthony P., Jones, Chris D., Booth, Ben B.B., Malhi, Yadvinder, Hemming, Debbie, Kay, Gillian, Good, Peter, Lewis, Simon L., Phillips, Oliver L., Atkin, Owen K., Lloyd, Jon, Gloor, Emanuel, Zaragoza-Castells, Joana, Meir, Patrick, Betts, Richard, Harris, Phil P., Nobre, Carlos, Marengo, Jose, and Cox, Peter M. (2013) Simulated resilience of tropical rainforests to CO2-induced climate change. Nature Geoscience, 6 (4). pp. 268-273.

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Abstract

How tropical forest carbon stocks might alter in response to changes in climate and atmospheric composition is uncertain. However, assessing potential future carbon loss from tropical forests is important for evaluating the efficacy of programmes for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation. Uncertainties are associated with different carbon stock responses in models with different representations of vegetation processes on the one hand 1, 2, 3, and differences in projected changes in temperature and precipitation patterns on the other hand 4, 5. Here we present a systematic exploration of these sources of uncertainty, along with uncertainty arising from different emissions scenarios for all three main tropical forest regions: the Americas (that is, Amazonia and Central America), Africa and Asia. Using simulations with 22 climate models and the MOSES–TRIFFID land surface scheme, we find that only in one 5 of the simulations are tropical forests projected to lose biomass by the end of the twenty-first century—and then only for the Americas. When comparing with alternative models of plant physiological processes 1, 2, we find that the largest uncertainties are associated with plant physiological responses, and then with future emissions scenarios. Uncertainties from differences in the climate projections are significantly smaller. Despite the considerable uncertainties, we conclude that there is evidence of forest resilience for all three regions.

Item ID: 28335
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1752-0908
Keywords: biogeochemistry, climate science, ecology, atmospheric science
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2013 05:26
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960303 Climate Change Models @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 50%
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