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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-55
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-55
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  03 Aug 2020

03 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

ESD Reviews: Evidence of multiple inconsistencies between representations of terrestrial and marine ecosystems in Earth System Models

Félix Pellerin1, Philipp Porada2, and Inga Hense1 Félix Pellerin et al.
  • 1Institute of Marine Ecosystem and Fishery Science (IMF), Center of Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), University of Hamburg, Große Elbstraße 133, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
  • 2Institute of Plant Science and Microbiology, Center of Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), University of Hamburg, Ohnhorststraße 18, 22609 Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. Terrestrial and marine ecosystems interact with other Earth system components through different biosphere-climate feedbacks that are very similar among ecosystem types. Despite these similarities, terrestrial and marine systems are often treated relatively separately in Earth System Models (ESM). In these ESM, the ecosystems are represented by a set of biological processes that are able to influence the climate system by affecting the chemical and physical properties of the environment. While most of the climate-relevant processes are shared between ecosystem types, model representations of terrestrial and marine ecosystems often differ. This raises the question whether inconsistencies between terrestrial and marine ecosystem models exist and potentially skew our perception of the relative influence of each ecosystem on climate. Here we compared the terrestrial and marine modules of 17 Earth System Models in order to identify inconsistencies between the two ecosystem types. We sorted out the biological processes included in ESM regarding their influence on climate into three types of biosphere-climate feedbacks (i.e. the biogeochemical pumps, the biogeophysical mechanisms and the gas and particle shuttles), and critically compare their representation in the different ecosystem modules. Overall, we found multiple evidences of unjustified differences in process representations between terrestrial and marine ecosystem models within ESM. These inconsistencies may lead to wrong predictions about the role of biosphere in the climate system. We believe that the present comparison can be used by the Earth system modeling community to increase consistency between ecosystem models. We further call for the development of a common framework allowing the uniform representation of climate-relevant processes in ecosystem modules of ESM.

Félix Pellerin et al.

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Félix Pellerin et al.

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Short summary
While several biological processes are similar among terrestrial and marine ecosystems, their representation in Earth System Models may differ. By comparing the terrestrial and marine modules of 17 Earth System Models, we found multiple evidences of unjustified differences in processes representation. These inconsistencies may lead to wrong predictions about the role of biosphere in the climate system and skew our perception of the relative influence of each ecosystem on climate.
While several biological processes are similar among terrestrial and marine ecosystems, their...
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