To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Ecosystem modeling, a pillar of the systems ecology paradigm (SEP), addresses questions such as, how much carbon and nitrogen are cycled within ecological sites, landscapes, or indeed the earth system? Or how are human activities modifying these flows? Modeling, when coupled with field and laboratory studies, represents the essence of the SEP in that they embody accumulated knowledge and generate hypotheses to test understanding of ecosystem processes and behavior. Initially, ecosystem models were primarily used to improve our understanding about how biophysical aspects of ecosystems operate. However, current ecosystem models are widely used to make accurate predictions about how large-scale phenomena such as climate change and management practices impact ecosystem dynamics and assess potential effects of these changes on economic activity and policy making. In sum, ecosystem models embedded in the SEP remain our best mechanism to integrate diverse types of knowledge regarding how the earth system functions and to make quantitative predictions that can be confronted with observations of reality. Modeling efforts discussed are the Century ecosystem model, DayCent ecosystem model, Grassland Ecosystem Model ELM, food web models, Savanna model, agent-based and coupled systems modeling, and Bayesian modeling.
The following summary contains some material more fully discussed in Chapter 1 (which was extracted from the 1994 IPCC Report): Bullets containing significant new information are marked “***”; those containing updated information are marked “**”; and those which contain information which is essentially unchanged are marked “*”.
Climate change can be driven by changes in the atmospheric concentrations of a number of radiatively active gases and aerosols. We have clear evidence that human activities have affected concentrations, distributions, and life cycles of these gases. These matters, discussed in this chapter, were assessed at greater length in IPCC WGI report “Radiative Forcing of Climate Change” (IPCC 1994).
* Carbon dioxide concentrations have increased by almost 30% from about 280 ppmv in the late 18th century to 358 ppmv in 1994. This increase is primarily due to combustion of fossil fuel and cement production, and to land-use change. During the last millennium, a period of relatively stable climate, concentrations varied by about ±10 ppmv around the pre-industrial value of 280 ppmv. On the century time-scale these fluctuations were far less rapid than the change observed over the 20th century.
*** The growth rate of atmospheric CO2 concentrations over the last few years is comparable to, or slightly above, the average of the 1980s (∼1.5 ppmv/yr). On shorter (interannual) time-scales, after a period of slow growth (0.6 ppmv/yr) spanning 1991 to 1992, the growth rate in 1994 was higher (∼2 ppmv/yr).
Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is imperative to stabilizing our future climate. Our ability to reduce these emissions combined with an understanding of how much fossil-fuel-derived CO2 the oceans and plants can absorb is central to mitigating climate change. In The Carbon Cycle, leading scientists examine how atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have changed in the past and how this may affect the concentrations in the future. They look at the carbon budget and the 'missing sink' for carbon dioxide. They offer approaches to modeling the carbon cycle, providing mathematical tools for predicting future levels of carbon dioxide. This comprehensive text incorporates findings from the recent IPCC reports. New insights, and a convergence of ideas and views across several disciplines make this book an important contribution to the global change literature. It will be an invaluable resource for students and researchers working in the field.
Interest in the carbon cycle has increased because of the observed increase in levels of atmospheric CO2 (from ∼280 ppmv in 1800 to ∼315 ppmv in 1957 to ∼356 ppmv in 1993) and because the signing of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has forced nations to assess their contributions to sources and sinks of CO2n, and to evaluate the processes that control CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere. Over the last few years, our knowledge of the carbon cycle has increased, particularly in the quantification and identification of mechanisms for terrestrial exchanges, and in the preliminary quantification of feedbacks.
The Increase in Atmospheric CO2 Concentration Since Pre-Industrial Times
Atmospheric levels of CO2 have been measured directly since 1957. The concentration and isotope records prior to that time consist of evidence from ice cores, moss cores, packrat middens, tree rings, and the isotopic measurements of planktonic and benthic foraminifera. Ice cores serve as the primary data source because they provide a fairly direct and continuous record of past atmospheric composition. The ice cores indicate that an increase in CO2 level of about 80 ppmv paralleled the last interglacial warming. There is uncertainty over whether changes in CO2 levels as rapid as those of the 20th century have occurred in the past.
Since 1988, the Office for Interdisciplinary Earth Studies of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has run a series of annual Global Change Institutes (GCIs) on a range of topics under the broad theme of global environmental change. Participants in each GCI have come from a wide range of disciplines, including those peripheral to the main topic, in order to stimulate discussion and to ensure a multidisciplinary perspective. All GCIs have been highly successful and have led to important and useful proceedings volumes.
The sixth annual Global Change Institute was held over July 18–30, 1993, in Snowmass, Colorado. The topic of the institute was the carbon cycle. As a unique feature, the GCI focused on the practical problems of projecting future concentration changes for given emissions, estimating emissions for prescribed concentration profiles, and assessing the uncertainties in these calculations. Much of the discussion still involved processes, but the viewpoint fostered was as much that of the user of carbon cycle model output as of the “pure” scientist. Over the past decade, there has been a trend toward applied or socially relevant science. With the concern over future climatic change resulting from increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, and with the central role that CO2 plays in this problem, there is no area of science in which cognizance of the social and policy implications is more important than in carbon cycle research.