Studying the impact of biomass burning aerosol radiative and climate effects on the Amazon rainforest productivity with an Earth system model

Malavelle, Florent F.; Haywood, Jim M.; Mercado, Lina M. ORCID:; Folberth, Gerd A.; Bellouin, Nicolas; Sitch, Stephen; Artaxo, Paulo. 2019 Studying the impact of biomass burning aerosol radiative and climate effects on the Amazon rainforest productivity with an Earth system model. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19 (2). 1301-1326.

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Diffuse light conditions can increase the efficiency of photosynthesis and carbon uptake by vegetation canopies. The diffuse fraction of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) can be affected by either a change in the atmospheric aerosol burden and/or a change in cloudiness. During the dry season, a hotspot of biomass burning on the edges of the Amazon rainforest emits a complex mixture of aerosols and their precursors and climate-active trace gases (e.g. CO2, CH4, NOx). This creates potential for significant interactions between chemistry, aerosol, cloud, radiation and the biosphere across the Amazon region. The combined effects of biomass burning on the terrestrial carbon cycle for the present day are potentially large, yet poorly quantified. Here, we quantify such effects using the Met Office Hadley Centre Earth system model HadGEM2-ES, which provides a fully coupled framework with interactive aerosol, radiative transfer, dynamic vegetation, atmospheric chemistry and biogenic volatile organic compound emission components. Results show that for present day, defined as year 2000 climate, the overall net impact of biomass burning aerosols is to increase net primary productivity (NPP) by +80 to +105 TgC yr−1, or 1.9 % to 2.7 %, over the central Amazon Basin on annual mean. For the first time we show that this enhancement is the net result of multiple competing effects: an increase in diffuse light which stimulates photosynthetic activity in the shaded part of the canopy (+65 to +110 TgC yr−1), a reduction in the total amount of radiation (−52 to −105 TgC yr−1) which reduces photosynthesis and feedback from climate adjustments in response to the aerosol forcing which increases the efficiency of biochemical processes (+67 to +100 TgC yr−1). These results illustrate that despite a modest direct aerosol effect (the sum of the first two counteracting mechanisms), the overall net impact of biomass burning aerosols on vegetation is sizeable when indirect climate feedbacks are considered. We demonstrate that capturing the net impact of aerosols on vegetation should be assessed considering the system-wide behaviour.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1680-7316
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 15 Mar 2019 17:33 +0 (UTC)

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