Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Research article
10 Jul 2015
Research article |  | 10 Jul 2015

Climate and carbon cycle dynamics in a CESM simulation from 850 to 2100 CE

F. Lehner, F. Joos, C. C. Raible, J. Mignot, A. Born, K. M. Keller, and T. F. Stocker

Abstract. Under the protocols of phase 3 of the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project, a number of simulations were produced that provide a range of potential climate evolutions from the last millennium to the end of the current century. Here, we present the first simulation with the Community Earth System Model (CESM), which includes an interactive carbon cycle, that covers the last millennium. The simulation is continued to the end of the twenty-first century. Besides state-of-the-art forcing reconstructions, we apply a modified reconstruction of total solar irradiance to shed light on the issue of forcing uncertainty in the context of the last millennium. Nevertheless, we find that structural uncertainties between different models can still dominate over forcing uncertainty for quantities such as hemispheric temperatures or the land and ocean carbon cycle response. Compared to other model simulations, we find forced decadal-scale variability to occur mainly after volcanic eruptions, while during other periods internal variability masks potentially forced signals and calls for larger ensembles in paleoclimate modeling studies. At the same time, we were not able to attribute millennial temperature trends to orbital forcing, as has been suggested recently. The climate–carbon-cycle sensitivity in CESM during the last millennium is estimated to be between 1.0 and 2.1 ppm °C−1. However, the dependence of this sensitivity on the exact time period and scale illustrates the prevailing challenge of deriving robust constraints on this quantity from paleoclimate proxies. In particular, the response of the land carbon cycle to volcanic forcing shows fundamental differences between different models. In CESM the tropical land dictates the response to volcanoes, with a distinct behavior for large and moderate eruptions. Under anthropogenic emissions, global land and ocean carbon uptake rates emerge from the envelope of interannual natural variability by about year 1947 and 1877, respectively, as simulated for the last millennium.

Short summary
We present the first last-millennium simulation with the Community Earth System Model (CESM) including an interactive carbon cycle in both ocean and land component. Volcanic eruptions emerge as the strongest forcing factor for the preindustrial climate and carbon cycle. We estimate the climate-carbon-cycle feedback in CESM to be at the lower bounds of empirical estimates (1.3ppm/°C). The time of emergence for interannual global land and ocean carbon uptake rates are 1947 and 1877, respectively.
Final-revised paper