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Simulated responses of potential vegetation to doubled‐CO2 climate change and feedbacks on near‐surface temperature

Betts, Richard A., Cox, Peter M., Woodward, F. Ian
Global ecology and biogeography 2000 v.9 no.2 pp. 171-180
boreal forests, carbon dioxide, climate, climate change, energy, leaf area, models, physiological response, snowpack, stomatal conductance, temperature, vegetation cover, vegetation structure, winter
Increases in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and associated changes in climate may exert large impacts on plant physiology and the density of vegetation cover. These may in turn provide feedbacks on climate through a modification of surface‐atmosphere fluxes of energy and moisture. This paper uses asynchronously coupled models of global vegetation and climate to examine the responses of potential vegetation to different aspects of a doubled‐CO₂ environmental change, and compares the feedbacks on near‐surface temperature arising from physiological and structural components of the vegetation response. Stomatal conductance reduces in response to the higher CO₂ concentration, but rising temperatures and a redistribution of precipitation also exert significant impacts on this property as well as leading to major changes in potential vegetation structure. Overall, physiological responses act to enhance the warming near the surface, but in many areas this is offset by increases in leaf area resulting from greater precipitation and higher temperatures. Interactions with seasonal snow cover result in a positive feedback on winter warming in the boreal forest regions.