Climate Dynamics

, Volume 21, Issue 7–8, pp 515–537 | Cite as

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

  • K. J. MeissnerEmail author
  • A. J. Weaver
  • H. D. Matthews
  • P. M. Cox


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.


Gross Primary Productivity Atmospheric General Circulation Model Vegetation Model Broadleaf Tree North Atlantic Deep Water 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Michael Eby and Ed Wiebe for their technical support. Victor Brovkin, Michel Crucifix and one anonymous reviewer were extraordinarily helpful with an earlier version of this paper. We are grateful for research grant support under the NSERC Operating, CSHD and CFCAS research grant programs. Andrew J. Weaver is grateful for release time provided by the Killam Fellowship and Canada Research Chair Programs. Peter M. Cox was supported by the UK Department of Environment, Food and Regional Affairs under The Climate Prediction Programme contract PECD 7/12/37.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. J. Meissner
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. J. Weaver
    • 1
  • H. D. Matthews
    • 1
  • P. M. Cox
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
  2. 2.Hadley Centre, Meteorological Office, Bracknell, UK

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