, Volume 21, Issue 7-8, pp 515-537
Date: 23 Oct 2003

The role of land surface dynamics in glacial inception: a study with the UVic Earth System Model

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Abstract

The first results of the UVic Earth System Model coupled to a land surface scheme and a dynamic global vegetation model are presented in this study. In the first part the present day climate simulation is discussed and compared to observations. We then compare a simulation of an ice age inception (forced with 116 ka BP orbital parameters and an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 240 ppm) with a preindustrial run (present day orbital parameters, atmospheric [CO2] = 280 ppm). Emphasis is placed on the vegetation’s response to the combined changes in solar radiation and atmospheric CO2 level. A southward shift of the northern treeline as well as a global decrease in vegetation carbon is observed in the ice age inception run. In tropical regions, up to 88% of broadleaf trees are replaced by shrubs and C4 grasses. These changes in vegetation cover have a remarkable effect on the global climate: land related feedbacks double the atmospheric cooling during the ice age inception as well as the reduction of the meridional overturning in the North Atlantic. The introduction of vegetation related feedbacks also increases the surface area with perennial snow significantly.