01 Aug 2022
01 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Reconstructions and predictions of the global carbon budget with an emission-driven Earth System Model

Hongmei Li1, Tatiana Ilyina1, Tammas Loughran2,a, Aaron Spring1, and Julia Pongratz2 Hongmei Li et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2Department of Geography, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany
  • anow at: CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia

Abstract. The global carbon budget (GCB) – including fluxes of CO2 between atmosphere, land and ocean, and its atmospheric growth rate – show large interannual to decadal variations. Reconstructing and predicting the variable GCB is essential for tracing the fate of carbon and understanding the global carbon cycle in the changing climate. We use a novel approach to reconstruct and predict the next-years’ variations in GCB based on our decadal prediction system enhanced with an interactive carbon cycle. By assimilating physical atmospheric and oceanic data products into the Max Planck Institute Earth system model (MPI-ESM), we can well reproduce the annual mean historical GCB variations from 1970–2018, with high correlations relative to the assessments from the Global Carbon Project of 0.75, 0.75 and 0.97 for atmospheric CO2 growth, air-land CO2 fluxes and air-sea CO2 fluxes, respectively. Such a fully coupled decadal prediction system, with an interactive carbon cycle enables representation of the GCB within a closed Earth system, and therefore provides an additional line of evidence for the ongoing assessments of the anthropogenic GCB. Retrospective predictions initialized from the assimilation simulation show high confidence in predicting the following year’s GCB. The predictive skill is up to 5 years for the air-sea CO2 fluxes, and 2 years for the air-land CO2 fluxes and atmospheric carbon growth rate. This is the first study investigating the GCB variations and predictions with an emission-driven prediction system, such a system also enables the reconstruction and prediction of the evolution of atmospheric CO2 concentration changes. The earth system predictions in this study provide valuable inputs for understanding the global carbon cycle and informing climate relevant policy.

Hongmei Li et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2022-37', Wei Li, 29 Aug 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Hongmei Li, 29 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2022-37', Vivek Arora, 17 Sep 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Hongmei Li, 29 Sep 2022

Hongmei Li et al.

Hongmei Li et al.


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Short summary
Understanding the variable global carbon budget (GCB) is essential for tracing the fate of carbon. For the first time, our emission-driven simulations allow the reconstruction and prediction of variations in prognostic atmospheric CO2.The evolution of GCB is well reconstructed by MPI-ESM assimilation within a closed Earth system. Retrospective predictions show high confidence to predict the next year GCB and hence support the Global Carbon Project and inform climate relevant policy.