Twenty-First-Century Compatible CO2Emissions and Airborne Fraction Simulated by CMIP5 Earth System Models under Four Representative Concentration Pathways

Chris Jones, Eddy Robertson, Vivek Arora, Pierre Friedlingstein, Elena Shevliakova, Laurent Bopp, Victor Brovkin, Tomohiro Hajima, Etsushi Kato, Michio Kawamiya, Spencer Liddicoat, Keith Lindsay (+4 others)
2013 Journal of Climate  
The carbon cycle is a crucial Earth system component affecting climate and atmospheric composition. The response of natural carbon uptake to CO 2 and climate change will determine anthropogenic emissions compatible with a target CO 2 pathway. For phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), four future representative concentration pathways (RCPs) have been generated by integrated assessment models (IAMs) and used as scenarios by state-of-the-art climate models, enabling
more » ... cation of compatible carbon emissions for the four scenarios by complex, process-based models. Here, the authors present results from 15 such Earth system GCMs for future changes in land and ocean carbon storage and the implications for anthropogenic emissions. The results are consistent with the underlying scenarios but show substantial model spread. Uncertainty in land carbon uptake due to differences among models is comparable with the spread across scenarios. Model estimates of historical fossil-fuel emissions agree well with reconstructions, and future projections for representative concentration pathway 2.6 (RCP2.6) and RCP4.5 are consistent with the IAMs. For high-end scenarios (RCP6.0 and RCP8.5), GCMs simulate smaller compatible emissions than the IAMs, indicating a larger climate-carbon cycle feedback in the GCMs in these scenarios. For the RCP2.6 mitigation scenario, an average reduction of 50% in emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels is required but with very large model spread (14%-96%). The models also disagree on both the requirement for sustained negative emissions to achieve the RCP2.6 CO 2 concentration and the success of this scenario to restrict global warming below 28C. All models agree that the future airborne fraction depends strongly on the emissions profile with higher airborne fraction for higher emissions scenarios.
doi:10.1175/jcli-d-12-00554.1 fatcat:lnnizuk6xrb55phnbf7noxrlcy