Role of CO2, climate and land use in regulating the seasonal amplitude increase of carbon fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems: A multimodel analysis

Fang Zhao, Ning Zeng, Ghassem Asrar, Pierre Friedlingstein, Akihiko Ito, Atul Jain, Eugenia Kalnay, Etsushi Kato, Charles Koven, Ben Poulter, Rashid Rafique, Stephen Sitch, Shijie Shu, Beni Stocker, Nicolas Viovy, Andy Wiltshire, Sonke Zaehle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the net terrestrial carbon flux to the atmosphere (FTA) simulated by nine models from the TRENDY dynamic global vegetation model project for its seasonal cycle and amplitude trend during 1961-2012. While some models exhibit similar phase and amplitude compared to atmospheric inversions, with spring drawdown and autumn rebound, others tend to rebound early in summer. The model ensemble mean underestimates the magnitude of the seasonal cycle by 40g% compared to atmospheric inversions. Global FTA amplitude increase (19g±g8g%) and its decadal variability from the model ensemble are generally consistent with constraints from surface atmosphere observations. However, models disagree on attribution of this long-term amplitude increase, with factorial experiments attributing 83g±g56g%, ĝ'3g±g74 and 20g±g30g% to rising CO2, climate change and land use/cover change, respectively. Seven out of the nine models suggest that CO2 fertilization is the strongest control - with the notable exception of VEGAS, which attributes approximately equally to the three factors. Generally, all models display an enhanced seasonality over the boreal region in response to high-latitude warming, but a negative climate contribution from part of the Northern Hemisphere temperate region, and the net result is a divergence over climate change effect. Six of the nine models show that land use/cover change amplifies the seasonal cycle of global FTA: some are due to forest regrowth, while others are caused by crop expansion or agricultural intensification, as revealed by their divergent spatial patterns. We also discovered a moderate cross-model correlation between FTA amplitude increase and increase in land carbon sink (R2 Combining double low line g0.61). Our results suggest that models can show similar results in some benchmarks with different underlying mechanisms; therefore, the spatial traits of CO2 fertilization, climate change and land use/cover changes are crucial in determining the right mechanisms in seasonal carbon cycle change as well as mean sink change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5121-5137
Number of pages17
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 14 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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