Climate-carbon cycle feedbacks under stabilization: uncertainty and observational constraints

Jones, Chris D.; Cox, Peter M.; Huntingford, Chris. 2006 Climate-carbon cycle feedbacks under stabilization: uncertainty and observational constraints. Tellus B, 58B. 603-613.

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Avoiding ‘dangerous climate change’ by stabilization of atmospheric CO2 concentrations at a desired level requires reducing the rate of anthropogenic carbon emissions so that they are balanced by uptake of carbon by the natural terrestrial and oceanic carbon cycles. Previous calculations of profiles of emissions which lead to stabilized CO2 levels have assumed no impact of climate change on this natural carbon uptake. However, future climate change effects on the land carbon cycle are predicted to reduce its ability to act as a sink for anthropogenic carbon emissions and so quantification of this feedback is required to determine future permissible emissions. Here, we assess the impact of the climate-carbon cycle feedback and attempt to quantify its uncertainty due to both within-model parameter uncertainty and between-model structural uncertainty. We assess the use of observational constraints to reduce uncertainty in the future permissible emissions for climate stabilization and find that all realistic carbon cycle feedbacks consistent with the observational record give permissible emissions significantly less than previously assumed. However, the observational record proves to be insufficient to tightly constrain carbon cycle processes or future feedback strength with implications for climate-carbon cycle model evaluation.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry > CC01B Land-surface Feedbacks in the Climate System
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Process Hydrology
ISSN: 0280-6509
NORA Subject Terms: Meteorology and Climatology
Ecology and Environment
Atmospheric Sciences
Date made live: 07 May 2008 08:47 +0 (UTC)

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