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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
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Research article
02 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).
Land-use and land-cover change carbon emissions between 1901 and 2012 constrained by biomass observations
Wei Li1, Philippe Ciais1, Shushi Peng1,2, Chao Yue1, Yilong Wang1, Martin Thurner3, Sassan S. Saatchi4, Almut Arneth5, Valerio Avitabile6, Nuno Carvalhais7,8, Anna B. Harper9, Etsushi Kato10, Charles Koven11, Yi Y. Liu12, Julia E. M. S. Nabel13, Yude Pan14, Julia Pongratz13, Benjamin Poulter15, Thomas A. M. Pugh5,16, Maurizio Santoro17, Stephen Sitch18, Benjamin D. Stocker19,20, Nicolas Viovy1, Andy Wiltshire21, Rasoul Yousefpour13,a, and Sönke Zaehle7 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
2Sino-French Institute for Earth System Science, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
3Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry (ACES) and the Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
4Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
5Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research – Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU), Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
6Centre for Geo-Information and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University & Research, Droevendaalsesteeg 3, 6708PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
7Department for Biogeochemical Integration, Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
8CENSE, Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Caparica, Portugal
9College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
10Institute of Applied Energy, Minato, Tokyo 105-0003, Japan
11Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Department, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Berkeley, CA, USA
12ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science & Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia
13Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
14USDA Forest Service, Durham, New Hampshire, USA
15Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717
16School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Science and Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
17GAMMA Remote Sensing, 3073 Gümligen, Switzerland
18College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
19Climate and Environmental Physics, and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
20Imperial College London, Life Science Department, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK
21Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, Devon. EX1 3PB, UK
acurrent address: Chair of Forestry Economics and Forest Planning, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
Abstract. The use of dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) to estimate CO2 emissions from land-use and land-cover change (LULCC) offers a new window to account for spatial and temporal details of emissions, and for ecosystem processes affected by LULCC. One drawback of DGVMs however is their large uncertainty. Here, we propose a new method of using satellite- and inventory-based biomass observations to constrain historical cumulative LULCC emissions (EcLUC) from an ensemble of nine DGVMs based on emerging relationships between simulated vegetation biomass and EcLUC. This method is applicable at global and regional scale. Compared to the large range of EcLUC in the original ensemble (94 to 273 Pg C) during 1901–2012, current biomass observations allow us to derive a new best estimate of 155 ± 50 (1-σ Gaussian error) Pg C. The constrained LULCC emissions are higher than prior DGVM values in tropical regions, but significantly lower in North America. Our approach of constraining cumulative LULCC emissions based on biomass observations reduces the uncertainty of the historical carbon budget, and can also be applied to evaluate the impact of land-based mitigation activities.

Citation: Li, W., Ciais, P., Peng, S., Yue, C., Wang, Y., Thurner, M., Saatchi, S. S., Arneth, A., Avitabile, V., Carvalhais, N., Harper, A. B., Kato, E., Koven, C., Liu, Y. Y., Nabel, J. E. M. S., Pan, Y., Pongratz, J., Poulter, B., Pugh, T. A. M., Santoro, M., Sitch, S., Stocker, B. D., Viovy, N., Wiltshire, A., Yousefpour, R., and Zaehle, S.: Land-use and land-cover change carbon emissions between 1901 and 2012 constrained by biomass observations, Biogeosciences Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Wei Li et al.
Wei Li et al.


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Short summary
We used several observation-based biomass datasets to constrain the historical land use change carbon emissions simulated by models. Compared to the large range of the original modelled emissions (from 94 to 273 Pg C), the observationally constrained global cumulative emission estimate is of 155 ± 50 (1-σ Gaussian error) Pg C from 1901 to 2012. Our approach reduces the uncertainty and can be also applied to evaluate the LULCC impact of land-based climate mitigation policies.
We used several observation-based biomass datasets to constrain the historical land use change...