Macias-Fauria, M., and E.A. Johnson, 2013: “Warming-induced upslope advance of subalpine forest is severely limited by geomorphic processes.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 110, pp. 8117-8122, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1221278110.
Forests are expected to expand into alpine areas because of climate warming, causing land-cover change and fragmentation of alpine habitats. However, this expansion will only occur if the present upper treeline is limited by low-growing season temperatures that reduce plant growth. This temperature limitation has not been quantified at a landscape scale. Here, we show that temperature alone cannot realistically explain high-elevation tree cover over a >100-km2 area in the Canadian Rockies and that geologic/geomorphic processes are fundamental to understanding the heterogeneous landscape distribution of trees. Furthermore, upslope tree advance in a warmer scenario will be severely limited by availability of sites with adequate geomorphic/topographic characteristics. Our results imply that landscape-to-regional scale projections of warming-induced, high-elevation forest advance into alpine areas should not be based solely on temperature-sensitive, site-specific upper-treeline studies but also on geomorphic processes that control tree occurrence at long (centuries/millennia) timescales.
Necsoiu, M., C.L. Dinwiddie, G.R. Walter, A. Larsen, and S.A. Stothoff, 2013: “Multi-temporal image analysis of historical aerial photographs and recent satellite imagery reveals evolution of water body surface area and polygonal terrain morphology in Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska.” Environmental Research Letters, v. 8, paper no. 025007, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/025007.
Multi-temporal image analysis of very-high-resolution historical aerial and recent satellite imagery of the Ahnewetut Wetlands in Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska, revealed the nature of thaw lake and polygonal terrain evolution over a 54-year period of record comprising two 27-year intervals (1951–1978, 1978–2005). Using active-contouring-based change detection, high-precision orthorectification and co-registration and the normalized difference index, surface area expansion and contraction of 22 shallow water bodies, ranging in size from 0.09 to 179 ha, and the transition of ice-wedge polygons from a low- to a high-centered morphology were quantified. Total surface area decreased by only 0.4% during the first time interval, but decreased by 5.5% during the second time interval. Twelve water bodies (ten lakes and two ponds) were relatively stable with net surface area decreases of ≤10%, including four lakes that gained area during both time intervals, whereas ten water bodies (five lakes and five ponds) had surface area losses in excess of 10%, including two ponds that drained completely. Polygonal terrain remained relatively stable during the first time interval, but transformation of polygons from low- to high-centered was significant during the second time interval.
Pederson, G.T., J.L. Betancourt, and G.J. McCabe, 2013: “Regional patterns and proximal causes of the recent snowpack decline in the Rocky Mountains, U.S.” Geophysical Research Letters, v. 40, doi: 10.1002/grl.50424.
We used a first-order, monthly snow model and observations to disentangle seasonal influences on 20th century,regional snowpack anomalies in the Rocky Mountains of western North America, where interannual variations in cool-season (November–March) temperatures are broadly synchronous, but precipitation is typically antiphased north to south and uncorrelated with temperature. Over the previous eight centuries, regional snowpack variability exhibits strong, decadally persistent north-south (N-S) antiphasing of snowpack anomalies. Contrary to the normal regional antiphasing, two intervals of spatially synchronized snow deficits were identified. Snow deficits shown during the 1930s were synchronized north-south by low cool-season precipitation, with spring warming (February–March) since the 1980s driving the majority of the recent synchronous snow declines, especially across the low to middle elevations. Spring warming strongly influenced low snowpacks in the north after 1958, but not in the south until after 1980. The post-1980, synchronous snow decline reduced snow cover at low to middle elevations by ~20% and partly explains earlier and reduced streamflow and both longer and more active fire seasons. Climatologies of Rocky Mountain snowpack are shown to be seasonally and regionally complex, with Pacific decadal variability positively reinforcing the anthropogenic warming trend.
Hagemann, S., C. Chen, D.B. Clark, S. Folwell, S.N. Gosling, I. Haddeland, N. Hanasaki, J. Heinke, F. Ludwig, F. Voss, and A.J. Wiltshire, 2013: “Climate change impact on available water resources obtained using multiple global climate and hydrology models.” Earth System Dynamics, v. 4, pp. 129-144, doi: 10.5194/esd-4-129-2013.
Climate change is expected to alter the hydrological cycle resulting in large-scale impacts on water availability. However, future climate change impact assessments are highly uncertain. For the first time, multiple global climate (three) and hydrological models (eight) were used to systematically assess the hydrological response to climate change and project the future state of global water resources. This multi-model ensemble allows us to investigate how the hydrology models contribute to the uncertainty in projected hydrological changes compared to the climate models. Due to their systematic biases, GCM outputs cannot be used directly in hydrological impact studies, so a statistical bias correction has been applied. The results show a large spread in projected changes in water resources within the climate–hydrology modelling chain for some regions. They clearly demonstrate that climate models are not the only source of uncertainty for hydrological change, and that the spread resulting from the choice of the hydrology model is larger than the spread originating from the climate models over many areas. But there are also areas showing a robust change signal, such as at high latitudes and in some midlatitude regions, where the models agree on the sign of projected hydrological changes, indicative of higher confidence in this ensemble mean signal. In many catchments an increase of available water resources is expected but there are some severe decreases in Central and Southern Europe, the Middle East, the Mississippi River basin, southern Africa, southern China and south-eastern Australia.
Friedman, A.R., Y.-T. Hwang, J.C.H. Chiang, and D.M.W. Frierson, 2013: “Interhemispheric temperature asymmetry over the 20th century and in future projections.” Journal of Climate, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00525.1.
The temperature contrast between the northern and southern hemispheres - the interhemispheric temperature asymmetry (ITA) - is an emerging indicator of global climate change, potentially relevant to the Hadley circulation and tropical rainfall. We examine the ITA in historical observations and in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) 3 and 5 simulations.
The observed annual mean ITA (north minus south) has varied within a 0.8 °C range and features a significant positive trend since 1980. The CMIP multimodel ensembles simulate this trend, with a stronger and more realistic signal in CMIP5. Both ensembles project a continued increase in the ITA over the 21st century, well outside the 20th century range. We mainly attribute this increase to the uneven spatial impacts of greenhouse forcing, which result in amplified warming in the Arctic and northern landmasses. CMIP5 specific-forcing simulations indicate that before 1980, the greenhouse–forced ITA trend was primarily countered by anthropogenic aerosols. We also identify an abrupt decrease in the observed ITA in the late 1960s, which is generally not present in the CMIP simulations; it suggests that the observed drop is due to internal variability.
The difference in the strengths of the northern and southern Hadley cells co-varies with the ITA in the CMIP5 simulations, in accordance with previous findings; we also find an association with the hemispheric asymmetry in tropical rainfall. These relationships imply a northward shift in tropical rainfall with increasing ITA in the 21st century, though this result is difficult to separate from the response to global mean temperature change.
Munang, R., I. Thiaw, K. Alverson, J. Liu, and Z. Han, 2013: “The role of ecosystem services in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, v. 5, pp. 47-52, doi: 10.1016/j.cosust.2013.02.002.
This paper analyzes the vicious spiral between climate change impacts, ecosystem degradation and increased risk of climate-related disasters; secondly, it defines the central role of ecosystem management in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and their multifaceted linkages; and thirdly, it assesses the challenges for enhanced ecosystem management for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Given the increasing importance of ecosystem services and management in adapting and responding to climate change impacts and associated disaster risks, the paper concludes that political commitment at the highest level is urgently needed if ecosystem management is to have the adequate weight it deserves in the post-2012 climate change agreement. It is further recommended that adequate financial, technological and knowledge resources be allocated for integrating ecosystem management in the climate change and disaster risk reduction portfolios, including within national policy-setting, capacity building, planning and practices, particularly in developing countries vulnerable to climate change impacts and increased risks of climate-related disasters.
Park, J., H.E. Gall, D. Niyogi, and P.S.C. Rao, 2013: “Temporal trajectories of wet deposition across hydro-climatic regimes: Role of urbanization and regulations at U.S. and East Asia sites.” Atmospheric Environment, v. 70, pp. 280-288, doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2013.01.033.
Dominant global patterns of urbanization and industrialization contribute to large-scale modification of the drivers for hydrologic and biogeochemical processes, as evident in Asia, Africa, and South America which are experiencing rapid population and economic growth. One manifestation of urbanization and economic development is decreases in air quality, increases in dry/wet deposition fluxes, and growing adverse impacts on public health and ecosystem integrity. We examined available long-term (1980–2010) observational data, gathered at weekly intervals, for wet deposition at 19 urban sites in the U.S., and monitoring data (2000–2009) available for 17 urban sites at a monthly scale in East Asia. Our analyses are based on data for four constituents (SO42−, NO3−, Ca2+, and Mg2+); differences in atmospheric chemistry and terrestrial sources of these constituents enabled a robust comparative analysis. We examined intra-annual variability and the long-term temporal trajectories of wet deposition fluxes to discern the relative role of anthropogenic and stochastic hydro-climatic forcing. Here, we show that: (1) temporal variability in wet deposition fluxes follows an exponential probability density function at all sites, evidence that stochasticity of rainfall is the dominant control of wet deposition variability; (2) the mean wet deposition flux, μΩ (ML−2T−1), has decreased in the U.S. over time since enactment of the Clean Air Act, with μΩ having become homogenized across varying hydro-climatic regimes; and (3) in contrast, μΩ values for East Asian cities are 3–10 times higher than U.S. cities, attributed to lax regulatory enforcement. Based on the observed patterns, we suggest a stochastic model that generates ellipses within which the μΩ temporal trajectories are inscribed. In the U.S., anthropogenic forcing (regulations) is dominant in the humid regions, while variability in hydro-climatic forcing explains inter-annual variability in arid regions. Our stochastic analysis facilitates projections of the temporal trajectory shifts in wet deposition fluxes as a result of urbanization and other land-use changes, climate change, and regulatory enforcement.
Koven, C.D., 2013: “Boreal carbon loss due to poleward shift in low-carbon ecosystems.” Nature Geoscience, doi: 10.1038/ngeo1801.
Climate change can be thought of in terms of geographical shifts in climate properties. Examples include assessments of shifts in habitat distributions, of the movement needed to maintain constant temperature or precipitation, and of the emergence and disappearance of climate zones. Here I track the movement of analogue climates within climate models. From the model simulations, I define a set of vectors that link a historical reference climate for each location to the location in a changed climate whose seasonal temperature and precipitation cycles best match the reference climate. I use these vectors to calculate the change in vegetation carbon storage with climate change due to ecosystems following climate analogues. Comparing the derived carbon content change to direct carbon projections by coupled carbon–climate models reveals two regions of divergence. In the tropical forests, vector projections are fundamentally uncertain because of a lack of close climatic analogues. In the southern boreal forest, carbon losses are projected in the vector perspective because low-carbon ecosystems shift polewards. However, the majority of carbon–climate models—typically without explicit simulation of the disturbance and mortality processes behind such shifts—instead project vegetation carbon gains throughout the boreal region. Southern boreal carbon loss as a result of ecosystem shift is likely to offset carbon gains from northern boreal forest expansion.
Boike, J., B. Kattenstroth, K. Abramova, N. Bornemann, A. Chetverova, T. Fedorova, K. Fröb, M. Grigoriev, M. Grüber, L. Kutzbach, M. Langer, M. Minke, S. Muster, K. Piel, E.-M. Pfeiffer, G. Stoof, S. Westermann, K. Wischnewski, C. Wille, and H.-W. Hubberten, 2013: “Baseline characteristics of climate, permafrost and land cover from a new permafrost observatory in the Lena River Delta, Siberia (1998–2011).” Biogeosciences, v. 10, pp. 2105-2128, doi: 10.5194/bg-10-2105-2013.
Samoylov Island is centrally located within the Lena River Delta at 72° N, 126° E and lies within the Siberian zone of continuous permafrost. The landscape on Samoylov Island consists mainly of late Holocene river terraces with polygonal tundra, ponds and lakes, and an active floodplain. The island has been the focus of numerous multidisciplinary studies since 1993, which have focused on climate, land cover, ecology, hydrology, permafrost and limnology. This paper aims to provide a framework for future studies by describing the characteristics of the island’s meteorological parameters (temperature, radiation and snow cover), soil temperature, and soil moisture. The land surface characteristics have been described using high resolution aerial images in combination with data from ground-based observations. Of note is that deeper permafrost temperatures have increased between 0.3 to 1.3 °C over the last five years. However, no clear warming of air and active layer temperatures is detected since 1998, though winter air temperatures during recent years have not been as cold as in earlier years.
Annamalai, H., J. Hafner, K.P. Sooraj, and P. Pillai, 2013: “Global warming shifts the monsoon circulation, drying South Asia.” Journal of Climate, v. 26, pp. 2701-2718, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00208.1.
Monsoon rainfall over South Asia has decreased during the last 5 to 6 decades according to several sets of observations. Although sea surface temperature (SST) has risen across the Indo-Pacific warm pool during this period, the expected accompanying increased rainfall has occurred only in the tropical western Pacific.
The above changes noted in observations are also seen in a coupled climate model, but only when the model includes the recent increase in greenhouse gas concentration. The hypothesis that the robust rise in SST over the warm pool, perhaps anchored by an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, is instrumental in the east–west shift in monsoon rainfall (enhanced rainfall over tropical western Pacific and decreased rainfall over South Asia) is proposed. A suite of controlled experiments with an atmospheric general circulation model has been performed to isolate the impact of regional SST warming trends on the dryness over South Asia. Model experiments support the hypothesis that the rising SST trend over the tropical western Pacific has changed the atmospheric circulation: over the Bay of Bengal more dry and cool air is advected from the northeast than previously. Moist static energy budget diagnostics on the model solutions identify the sources for this east–west shift.
SST warming over the warm pool has accelerated in recent decades. Therefore, a close monitoring of that warming is important for long-term variations of monsoon rainfall. The inconsistency in the amplitude of drying over South Asia among the various land-based rainfall observations and lack of sustained rainfall observations over the open oceans, however, poses constraints in the results.