Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 111, Issue 3–4, pp 483–495 | Cite as

Effects of increased CO2 on land water balance from 1850 to 1989

  • Jing Peng
  • Wenjie Dong
  • Wenping Yuan
  • Jieming Chou
  • Yong Zhang
  • Juan Li
Original Paper


Numerous studies have shown that increased atmospheric CO2 concentration is one of the most important factors altering land water balance. In this study, we investigated the effects of increased CO2 on global land water balance using the dataset released by the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 derived from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis second-generation Earth System Model. The results suggested that the radiative effect of CO2 was much greater than the physiological effect on the water balance. At the model experiment only integrating CO2 radiative effect, the precipitation, evapotranspiration (ET) and runoff had significantly increased by 0.37, 0.12 and 0.31 mm year−2, respectively. Increases of ET and runoff caused a significant decrease of soil water storage by 0.05 mm year−2. However, the results showed increases of runoff and decreases of precipitation and ET in response to the CO2 fertilisation effect, which resulted into a small, non-significant decrease in the land water budget. In the Northern Hemisphere, especially on the coasts of Greenland, Northern Asia and Alaska, there were obvious decreases of soil water responding to the CO2 radiative effect. This trend could result from increased ice–snow melting as a consequence of warmer surface temperature. Although the evidence suggested that variations in soil moisture and snow cover and vegetation feedback made an important contribution to the variations in the land water budget, the effect of other factors, such as aerosols, should not be ignored, implying that more efforts are needed to investigate the effects of these factors on the hydrological cycle and land water balance.


  1. Andersen J et al (2002) Use of remotely sensed precipitation and leaf area index in a distributed hydrological model. J Hydrol 264(1–4):34–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Betts RA et al (2000) Simulated responses of potential vegetation to doubled-CO2 climate change and feedbacks on near-surface temperature. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 9(2):171–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Betts RA et al (2004) The role of ecosystem–atmosphere interactions in simulated Amazonian precipitation decrease and forest dieback under global climate warming. Theor Appl Climatol 78(1):157–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Betts RA et al (2007) Projected increase in continental runoff due to plant responses to increasing carbon dioxide. Nature 448(7157):1037–1041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bonan GB (2008) Forests and climate change: forcings, feedbacks, and the climate benefits of forests. Science 320(5882):1444–1449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bounoua et al (1999) Interactions between vegetation and climate: radiative and physiological effects of doubled atmospheric CO2. J Climate 12(2):309–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cao L et al (2009) Climate response to physiological forcing of carbon dioxide simulated by the coupled Community Atmosphere Model (CAM3.1) and Community Land Model (CLM3.0). Geophys Res Lett 36(10):L10402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chaplot V (2007) Water and soil resources response to rising levels of atmospheric CO2 concentration and to changes in precipitation and air temperature. J Hydrol 337(1–2):159–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Costa MH, Foley JA (2000) Combined effects of deforestation and doubled atmospheric CO2 concentrations on the climate of Amazonia. J Climate 13(1):18–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cox PM, et al. (2008) Increasing risk of Amazonian drought due to decreasing aerosol pollution. 453(7192): 212-215Google Scholar
  11. Cramer W et al (2001) Global response of terrestrial ecosystem structure and function to CO2 and climate change: results from six dynamic global vegetation models. Glob Chang Biol 7(4):357–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. de Wit M, Stankiewicz J (2006) Changes in surface water supply across Africa with predicted climate change. Science 311(5769):1917–1921CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Douville H et al (2002) Sensitivity of the hydrological cycle to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases and aerosols. Clim Dyn 20(1):45–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Field CB et al (1995) Stomatal responses to increased CO2: implications from the plant to the global scale. Plant Cell Environ 18(10):1214–1225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gedney N et al (2006) Detection of a direct carbon dioxide effect in continental river runoff records. Nature 439(7078):835–838CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gerten et al (2004) Terrestrial vegetation and water balance-hydrological evaluation of a dynamic global vegetation model. J Hydrol 286(1–4):22Google Scholar
  17. Giorgi F, Francisco R (2000) Evaluating uncertainties in the prediction of regional climate change. Geophys Res Lett 27(9):1295–1298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Groisman PY et al (2001) Heavy precipitation and high streamflow in the contiguous United states: trends in the twentieth century. B Am Meteorol Soc 82(2):219–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Guo Z et al (2006) Evaluation of the Second Global Soil Wetness Project soil moisture simulations: 2. Sensitivity to external meteorological forcing. J Geophys Res 111(D22):D22S–D23SGoogle Scholar
  20. Hanna E et al (2005) Runoff and mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet:1958-2003. J Geophys Res 110(D13):D13108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huntington TG (2008) CO2-induced suppression of transpiration cannot explain increasing runoff. Hydrol Process 22(2):311–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, 504-511 ppGoogle Scholar
  23. Jiang D et al (2011) Vegetation feedback under future global warming. Theor Appl Climatol 106(1):211–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jung M et al (2010) Recent decline in the global land evapotranspiration trend due to limited moisture supply. Nature 467(7318):951–954CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Koster RD et al (2004) Regions of strong coupling between soil moisture and precipitation. Science 305(5687):1138–1140Google Scholar
  26. Kruijt B et al (2008) Effects of rising atmospheric CO2 on evapotranspiration and soil moisture: a practical approach for the Netherlands. J Hydrol 349(3–4):257–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lawrence DM et al (2007) The partitioning of evapotranspiration into transpiration, soil evaporation, and canopy evaporation in a GCM: impacts on land–atmosphere interaction. J Hydrometeorol 8(4):862–880CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Levis S et al (2000) Large-scale vegetation feedbacks on a doubled CO2 climate. J Climate 13(7):1313–1325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Linacre ET (2004) Evaporation trends. Theor Appl Climatol 79(1):11–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Markewitz D et al (2010) Soil moisture depletion under simulated drought in the Amazon: impacts on deep root uptake. New Phytol 187(3):592–607Google Scholar
  31. Notaro et al (2007) Global vegetation and climate change due to future increases in CO2 as projected by a fully coupled model with dynamic vegetation. J Climate 20(1):21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Park C et al (2012) The potential of vegetation feedback to alleviate climate aridity over the United States associated with a 2× CO2 climate condition. Clim Dyn. doi:10.1007/s00382-011-1150-x
  33. Piao S et al (2007) Changes in climate and land use have a larger direct impact than rising CO2 on global river runoff trends. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104(39):15242–15247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Roderick ML et al (2009) Pan evaporation trends and the terrestrial water balance. II. Energy balance and interpretation. Geogr Compass 3(2):761–780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rosenfeld D et al (2008) Flood or drought: how do aerosols affect precipitation? Science 321(5894):1309–1313Google Scholar
  36. Schönwiese CD et al (1990) Temperature and precipitation trends in Europe and their possible link with greenhouse-induced climatic change. Theor Appl Climatol 41(3):173–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sellers PJ et al (1996) Comparison of radiative and physiological effects of doubled atmospheric CO2 on climate. Science 271(5254):1402–1406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sellers PJ et al (1997) Modeling the exchanges of energy, water, and carbon between continents and the atmosphere. Science 275(5299):502–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Seneviratne SI et al (2010) Investigating soil moisture–climate interactions in a changing climate: a review. Earth Sci Rev 99(3–4):125–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sörensson A et al (2010) Soil-precipitation feedbacks during the South American Monsoon as simulated by a regional climate model. Climatic Change 98(3):429–447Google Scholar
  41. Stevens B, Feingold G (2009) Untangling aerosol effects on clouds and precipitation in a buffered system. Nature 461(7264):607–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wetzel PJ and Chang JT (1987) Concerning the relationship between evapotranspiration and soil moisture. Journal of climate and applied meteorology 26(1):18–27Google Scholar
  43. Zhang X et al (2007) Detection of human influence on twentieth-century precipitation trends. Nature 448(7152):461–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jing Peng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wenjie Dong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wenping Yuan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jieming Chou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yong Zhang
    • 3
  • Juan Li
    • 4
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System ScienceBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System ScienceBeijing Normal UniversityZhuhaiChina
  3. 3.National Climate CenterChina Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Regional Climate—Environment for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations