Opening Pandora's box: Reducing global circulation model uncertainty in Australian simulations of the carbon cycle - CEA - Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives Access content directly
Journal Articles Earth System Dynamics Year : 2023

Opening Pandora's box: Reducing global circulation model uncertainty in Australian simulations of the carbon cycle

Lina Teckentrup
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Martin De de Kauwe
Gab Abramowitz
Andrew J. Pitman
  • Function : Author
Anna M. Ukkola
Sanaa Hobeichi
  • Function : Author
Benjamin Smith
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Climate projections from global circulation models (GCMs), part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 6 (CMIP6), are often employed to study the impact of future climate on ecosystems. However, especially at regional scales, climate projections display large biases in key forcing variables such as temperature and precipitation. These biases have been identified as a major source of uncertainty in carbon cycle projections, hampering predictive capacity. In this study, we open the proverbial Pandora's box and peer under the lid of strategies to tackle climate model ensemble uncertainty. We employ a dynamic global vegetation model (LPJ-GUESS) and force it with raw output from CMIP6 to assess the uncertainty associated with the choice of climate forcing. We then test different methods to either bias-correct or calculate ensemble averages over the original forcing data to reduce the climate-driven uncertainty in the regional projection of the Australian carbon cycle. We find that all bias correction methods reduce the bias of continental averages of steady-state carbon variables. Bias correction can improve model carbon outputs, but carbon pools are insensitive to the type of bias correction method applied for both individual GCMs and the arithmetic ensemble average across all corrected models. None of the bias correction methods consistently improve the change in simulated carbon over time compared to the target dataset, highlighting the need to account for temporal properties in correction or ensemble-averaging methods. Multivariate bias correction methods tend to reduce the uncertainty more than univariate approaches, although the overall magnitude is similar. Even after correcting the bias in the meteorological forcing dataset, the simulated vegetation distribution presents different patterns when different GCMs are used to drive LPJ-GUESS. Additionally, we found that both the weighted ensemble-averaging and random forest approach reduce the bias in total ecosystem carbon to almost zero, clearly outperforming the arithmetic ensemble-averaging method. The random forest approach also produces the results closest to the target dataset for the change in the total carbon pool, seasonal carbon fluxes, emphasizing that machine learning approaches are promising tools for future studies. This highlights that, where possible, an arithmetic ensemble average should be avoided. However, potential target datasets that would facilitate the application of machine learning approaches, i.e., that cover both the spatial and temporal domain required to derive a robust informed ensemble average, are sparse for ecosystem variables.
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hal-04106345 , version 1 (26-05-2023)





Lina Teckentrup, Martin De de Kauwe, Gab Abramowitz, Andrew J. Pitman, Anna M. Ukkola, et al.. Opening Pandora's box: Reducing global circulation model uncertainty in Australian simulations of the carbon cycle. Earth System Dynamics, 2023, 14 (3), pp.549-576. ⟨10.5194/esd-14-549-2023⟩. ⟨hal-04106345⟩
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