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  • Scholze, M., Knorr, W., Arnell, N., and I.C. Prentice, 2006: A climate change risk analysis for world ecosystems. PNAS, 103, 13116-13120, doi:10.1073/pnas.0601816103.

We quantify the risks of climate-induced changes in key ecosystem processes during the
21st century by forcing a dynamic global vegetation model with multiple scenarios from
16 climate models and mapping the proportions of model runs showing forest/non-forest
shifts, or exceedance of natural variability in wildfire frequency and freshwater supply.
Our analysis does not assign probabilities to scenarios, or weights to models. Instead, we
consider the distribution of outcomes within three sets of model runs grouped according
to the amount of global warming they simulate: <2C (including simulations in which
atmospheric composition is held constant, i.e. in which the only climate change is due to
greenhouse gases already emitted), 2-3C, and >3C. High risk of forest loss is shown for
Eurasia, eastern China, Canada, Central America, and Amazonia, with forest extensions
into the Arctic and semi-arid savannas, more frequent wildfire in Amazonia, the far north
and many semi-arid regions, more runoff north of 50N and in tropical Africa and
northwestern South America, and less runoff in West Africa, Central America, southern
Europe and the eastern USA. Substantially larger areas are affected for global warming
>3C than for <2C, some features appear only at higher warming levels. A land carbon
sink of appr. 1 Pg C yr-1 is simulated for the late 20th century, but for >3C this converts to a
carbon source during the 21st century (implying a positive climate feedback) in 44% of
cases. The risks continue to increase over the following 200 years, even with atmospheric
composition held constant.

Last Updated: 2007-07-26

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