Climatic Change

, Volume 79, Issue 3–4, pp 213–241 | Cite as

Arctic climate change with a 2 C global warming: Timing, climate patterns and vegetation change

Article

Abstract

The signatories to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are charged with stabilizing the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous interference with the climate system. A number of nations, organizations and scientists have suggested that global mean temperature should not rise over 2 C above preindustrial levels. However, even a relatively moderate target of 2 C has serious implications for the Arctic, where temperatures are predicted to increase at least 1.5 to 2 times as fast as global temperatures. High latitude vegetation plays a significant role in the lives of humans and animals, and in the global energy balance and carbon budget. These ecosystems are expected to be among the most strongly impacted by climate change over the next century. To investigate the potential impact of stabilization of global temperature at 2 C, we performed a study using data from six Global Climate Models (GCMs) forced by four greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, the BIOME4 biogeochemistry-biogeography model, and remote sensing data. GCM data were used to predict the timing and patterns of Arctic climate change under a global mean warming of 2 C. A unified circumpolar classification recognizing five types of tundra and six forest biomes was used to develop a map of observed Arctic vegetation. BIOME4 was used to simulate the vegetation distributions over the Arctic at the present and for a range of 2 C global warming scenarios. The GCMs simulations indicate that the earth will have warmed by 2 C relative to preindustrial temperatures by between 2026 and 2060, by which stage the area-mean annual temperature over the Arctic (60–90N) will have increased by between 3.2 and 6.6 C. Forest extent is predicted by BIOME4 to increase in the Arctic on the order of 3 × 106 km2 or 55% with a corresponding 42% reduction in tundra area. Tundra types generally also shift north with the largest reductions in the prostrate dwarf-shrub tundra, where nearly 60% of habitat is lost. Modeled shifts in the potential northern limit of trees reach up to 400 km from the present tree line, which may be limited by dispersion rates. Simulated physiological effects of the CO2 increase (to ca. 475 ppm) at high latitudes were small compared with the effects of the change in climate. The increase in forest area of the Arctic could sequester 600 Pg of additional carbon, though this effect is unlikely to be realized over next century.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. ACIA (2004) Impacts of a warming arctic: arctic climate impact assessment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 146 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen MR, Ingram WJ (2002) Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrologic cycle. Nature 419:224–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bonan GB, Chapin FS, Thompson SL (1995) Boreal forest and tundra ecosystems as components of the climate system. Climatic Change 29:145–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Callaghan TV, Björn LO, Chapin FS, Chernov Y, Christensen TR, Huntley B, Ims R, Johansson M, Riedlinger DJ, Jonasson S, Matveyeva NV, Oechel WC, Panikov N, Shaver G (2005) Arctic Tundra and Polar Desert Ecosystems. Arctic Climate Impacts Assessment: Scientific Report, 243–352Google Scholar
  5. Callaghan TV, Bjorn LO, Chernov Y, Chapin T, Christensen TR, Huntley B, Ims RA, Johansson M, Jolly D, Jonasson S, Matveyeva N, Panikov N, Oechel W, Shaver G, Schaphoff S, Sitch S (2004) Effects of changes in climate on landscape and regional processes, and feedbacks to the climate system. Ambio 33:459–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. CAVM-Team (2003) Circumpolar Arctic vegetation map, scale 1:7,500,000, conservation of arctic flora and fauna. Map No. 1 ed., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. http://www.geobotany.uaf.edu/cavm
  7. Chapin FS, Eugster W, McFadden JP, Lynch AH, Walker DA (2000) Summer differences among Arctic ecosystems in regional climate forcing. J Climate 13:2002–2010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chapin FSI, Bret-Harte MS, Hobbie SE, Zhong HL (1995) Plant functional types as predictors of transient responses of Arctic vegetation to global change. J Veg Sci 7:347–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Christensen TR (1999) Potential and actual trace gas fluxes in Arctic terrestrial ecosystems. Polar Res 18:199–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Christensen TR, Jonasson S, Callaghan TV, Havstrom M (1999) On the potential CO2 release from tundra soils in a changing climate. Appl Soil Ecol 11:127–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Christensen TR, Prentice IC, Kaplan J, Haxeltine A, Sitch S (1996) Methane flux from northern wetlands and tundra: an ecosystem source modelling approach. Tellus B 48:652–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark MP, Serreze MC, Barry RG (1996) Characteristics of Arctic Ocean climate based on COADS data, 1980–1993. Geophys Res Lett 23:1953–1956CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Comiso JC (2005) Impact Studies of a 2°C global warming on the arctic Sea ice cover. evidence and implications of dangerous climate change in the Arctic, Rosentrater LD Ed., WWF, Oslo, 43–55Google Scholar
  14. Comiso JC, Yang JY, Honjo S, Krishfield RA (2003) Detection of change in the Arctic using satellite and in situ data. J Geophys Res Oceans 108:art. no.-3384Google Scholar
  15. Cramer W, Bondeau A, Woodward FI, Prentice C, Betts RA, Brovkin V, Cox PM, Fisher V, Foley JA, Friend AD, Kucharik C, Lomas MR, Ramankutty N, Sitch S, Smith B, White A, Young-Molling C (2001) Global response of terrestrial ecosystem structure and function to CO2 and climate change: results from six dynamic global vegetation models. Glob Change Biol 7:357–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Curry JA, Rossow WB, Randall D, Schramm JL (1996) Overview of Arctic cloud and radiation characteristics. J Climate 9:1731–1764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dai AG, Wigley TML, Meehl GA, Washington WM (2001) Effects of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 on global climate in the next two centuries. Geophys Res Lett 28:4511–4514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. de Noblet NI, Prentice IC, Joussaume S, Texier D, Botta A, Haxeltine A (1996) Possible role of atmosphere-biosphere interactions in triggering the last glaciation. Geophys Res Lett 23:3191–3194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Delworth TL, Stouffer RJ, Dixon KW, Spelman MJ, Knutson TR, Broccoli AJ, Kushner PJ, Wetherald RT (2002) Review of simulations of climate variability and change with the GFDL R30 coupled climate model. Clim Dynam 19:555–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. FAO: Digital Soil Map of the World and Derived Soil PropertiesGoogle Scholar
  21. Flato GM (2004) Sea-ice and its response to CO2 focing as simulated by global climate models. Clim Dynam 23:229–241Google Scholar
  22. Flato GM, Boer GJ (2001) Warming asymmetry in climate change simulations. Geophys Res Lett 28:195–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Foley JA, Kutzbach JE, Coe MT, Levis S (1994) Feedbacks between climate and boreal forests during the Holocene epoch. Nature 371:52–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Frey KE, Smith LC (2005) Amplified carbon release from vast West Siberian peatlands by 2100. Geophys Res Lett 32Google Scholar
  25. Gordon C, Cooper C, Senior CA, Banks H, Gregory JM, Johns TC, Mitchell JFB, Wood RA (2000) The simulation of SST, sea ice extents and ocean heat transports in a version of the Hadley Centre coupled model without flux adjustments. Clim Dynam 16:147–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hansen JE (2005) A slippery slope: How much global warming constitutes “dangerous anthropogenic interference”? Climatic Change 68:269–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harrison SP, Jolly D, Laarif F, Abe-Ouchi A, Dong B, Herterich K, Hewitt C, Joussaume S, Kutzbach JE, Mitchell J, de Noblet N, Valdes P (1998) Intercomparison of simulated global vegetation distributions in response to 6 kyr BP orbital forcing. J Climate 11:2721–2742CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Haxeltine A, Prentice IC (1996a) BIOME3: an equilibrium terrestrial biosphere model based on ecophysiological constraints, resource availability, and competition among plant functional types. Global Biogeochem Cy 10:693–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Haxeltine A, Prentice IC (1996b) A general model for the light-use efficiency of primary production. Funct Ecol 10:551–561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Haxeltine A, Prentice IC, Creswell ID (1996) A coupled carbon and water flux model to predict vegetation structure. J Veg Sci 7:651–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hennessy KJ, cited (2004) Climate change output. http://www.dar.csiro.au/publications/hennessy_1998a.html
  32. Holland MM, Bitz CM (2003) Polar amplification of climate change in coupled models. Clim Dynam 21:221–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hu ZZ, Kuzmina SI, Bengtsson L, Holland DM (2004) Sea-ice change and its connection with climate change in the Arctic in CMIP2 simulations. J Geophys Res-Atmos 109:art. no.-D10106Google Scholar
  34. Ingram WJ, Wilson CA, Mitchell JFB (1989) Modeling climate change - an assessment of sea ice and surface albedo feedbacks. J Geophys Res-Atmos 94:8609–8622Google Scholar
  35. IPCC (1995) Climate change 1995: the science of climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 453 ppGoogle Scholar
  36. IPCC (2001a) Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK New York, 1032 ppGoogle Scholar
  37. IPCC (2001b) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the third assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 881 ppGoogle Scholar
  38. Johannessen OM, Bengtsson L, Miles MW, Kuzmina SI, Semenov VA, Alekseev GV, Nagurnyi AP, Zakharov VF, Bobylev LP, Pettersson LH, Hasselmann K, Cattle HP (2004) Arctic climate change: observed and modelled temperature and sea-ice variability. Tellus A 56:328–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jolly D, Haxeltine A (1997) Effect of low glacial atmospheric CO2 on tropical African montane vegetation. Science 276:786–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jones PD, New M, Parker DE, Martin S, Rigor IG (1999) Surface air temperature and its changes over the past 150 years. Rev Geophys 37:173–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Joos F, Prentice IC, Sitch S, Meyer R, Hooss G, Plattner G-K, Gerber S, Hasselmann K (2001) Global warming feedbacks on terrestrial carbon uptake under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emission scenarios. Global Biogeochem Cy 15:891–907CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. JRC (2003) GLC2000: global land cover map for the year 2000. European Commission Joint Research Centre. http://www.gvm.jrc.it/glc2000
  43. Kaplan JO (2001) Geophysical applications of vegetation modeling, Ph.D. thesis, department of ecology. Lund University, 132 ppGoogle Scholar
  44. Kaplan JO (2002) Wetlands at the Last glacial maximum: distribution and methane emissions. Geophys Res Lett 29:3.1–3.4Google Scholar
  45. Kaplan JO, Prentice IC, Buchmann N (2002) The stable carbon isotope composition of the terrestrial biosphere: modeling at scales from the leaf to the globe. Global Biogeochem Cy 15:8.1–8.11Google Scholar
  46. Kaplan JO, Bigelow NH, Bartlein PJ, Christensen TR, Cramer W, Harrison SP, Matveyeva NV, McGuire AD, Murray DF, Prentice IC, Razzhivin VY, Smith B, Walker DA, Anderson PM, Andreev AA, Brubaker LB, Edwards ME, Lozhkin AV (2003) Climate change and Arctic ecosystems: 2. Modeling, paleodata-model comparisons, and future projections. J Geophys Res-Atmos 108:12.11–12.17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kling GW, Kipphut GW, Miller MC (1991) Arctic Lakes And Streams As Gas Conduits To The Atmosphere - Implications For Tundra Carbon Budgets. Science 251:298–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Meleshko VP (2004) Changes in Arctic snow mass in the 21st century. Russian Meteorology and Hydrology, 2004Google Scholar
  49. Mitchell JFB, Johns TC, Ingram WJ, Lowe JA (2000) The effect of stabilising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations on global and regional climate change. Geophys Res Lett 27:2977–2980CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. New M, Lister D, Hulme M, Makin I (2002) A high-resolution data set of surface climate over global land areas. Climate Res 21:1–25Google Scholar
  51. New MG (2005) Arctic climate change with a 2°C global warming. In: Rosentrater LD (ed) Evidence and implications of dangerous climate change in the Arctic. WWF, Oslo, 1–15Google Scholar
  52. Nozawa T, Emori S, Numaguti A, Yoko Tsushima, Takemura T, Nakajima T, Abe-Ouchi A, Kimoto M (2001) Projections of future climate change in the 21st century simulated by the CCSR/NIES CGCM under the IPCC SRES scenarios. In: Matsuno T, Kida H (eds) Present and future of modeling global environmental change: Toward integrated modeling. TERRAPUB, pp 15–28Google Scholar
  53. Oechel WC, Hastings ST, Vourlitis G, Jenkins M, Riechers G, Grulke N (1993) Recent change of Arctic tundra ecosystems from a net carbon dioxide sink to a source. Nature 361:520–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pastor J, Solin J, Bridgham SD, Updegraff K, Harth C, Weishampel P, Dewey B (2003) Global warming and the export of dissolved organic carbon from boreal peatlands. Oikos 100:380–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Polyakov IV, Bekryaev RV, Alekseev GV, Bhatt US, Colony RL, Johnson MA, Maskshtas AP, Walsh D (2003) Variability and trends of air temperature and pressure in the maritime Arctic, 1875–2000. J Climate 16:2067–2077CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Polyakov IV, Alekseev GV, Bekryaev RV, Bhatt U, Colony RL, Johnson MA, Karklin VP, Makshtas AP, Walsh D, Yulin AV (2002) Observationally based assessment of polar amplification of global warming. Geophys Res Lett 29:art. no. 1878Google Scholar
  57. Prentice IC, Cramer W, Harrison SP, Leemans R, Monserud RA, Solomon AM (1992) A global biome model based on plant physiology and dominance, soil properties and climate. J Biogeogr. 19:117–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Przybylak R (2000) Temporal and spatial variation of surface air temperature over the period of instrumental observations in the Arctic. Int J Climatol 20:587–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Raisanen J (2001a) CO2-induced climate change in CMIP2 experiments: quantification of agreement and role of internal variability. J Climate 14:2088–2104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Raisanen J (2001b) CO2-induced climate change in the Arctic area in the CMIP2 experiments. SWECLIM Newsletter 11:23–28Google Scholar
  61. Rauthe M, Paeth H (2004) Relative importance of northern hemisphere circulation modes in predicting regional climate change. J Climate 17:4180–4189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Reynolds CA, Jackson TJ, Rawls WJ (1999) Estimating available water content by linking the FAO soil map of the World with global soil profile databases and pedo-transfer functions. AGU Spring Meeting, Boston, MA, American Geophysical UnionGoogle Scholar
  63. Roeckner E, Arpe K, Bengtsson L, Christoph M, Claussen M, Dümenil L, Esch M, Giorgetta M, Schlese U, Schulzweida U (1996) The atmospheric general circulation model ECHAM-4: model description and simulation of present-day climate. Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology Report No.218Google Scholar
  64. Serreze MC, Walsh JE, Chapin FS, Osterkamp T, Dyurgerov M, Romanovsky V, Oechel WC, Morison J, Zhang T, Barry RG (2000) Observational evidence of recent change in the northern high-latitude environment. Climatic Change 46:159–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sitch S, Smith B, Prentice IC, Arneth A, Bondeau A, Cramer W, Kaplan JO, Levis S, Lucht W, Sykes MT, Thonicke K, Venevsky S (2003) Evaluation of ecosystem dynamics, plant geography and terrestrial carbon cycling in the LPJ dynamic global vegetation model. Glob Change Biol 9:161–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. VEMAP (1995) Vegetation/ecosystem modeling and analysis project: comparing biogeography and biogeochemistry models in a continental-scale study of terrestrial ecosystem responses to climate-change and CO2 doubling. Global Biogeochem Cy 9:407–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Walker DA, Raynolds MK, Daniels FJA, Einarsson E, Elvebakk A, Gould WA, Katenin AE, Kholod SS, Markon CJ, Melnikov ES, Moskalenko NG, Talbot SS, Yurtsev BA, CAVM-Team (2005) The Circumpolar Arctic vegetation map. J Veg Sci 16:267–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Plant SciencesUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Climate Research Lab, Centre for the EnvironmentOxford UniversityOxfordEngland

Personalised recommendations