TIMBER v0.1: a conceptual framework for emulating temperature responses to tree cover change
Abstract. Society is set to experience significant land cover changes in order to achieve the temperature goals agreed upon under the Paris Agreement. Such changes carry both global implications, pertaining to the biogeochemical effects of land cover change and thus the global carbon budget, and regional/local implications, pertaining to the biogeophysical effects arising within the immediate area of land cover change. Biogeophysical effects of land cover change are of high relevance to national policy- and decision- makers and their accountance is essential towards effective deployment of land cover practices that optimises between global and regional impacts. To this end, ESM outputs that isolate the biogeophysical responses of climate to land cover changes are key in informing impact assessments and supporting scenario development exercises. Generating multiple such ESM outputs, in a manner that allows comprehensive exploration of all plausible land cover scenarios however, is computationally untenable. This study proposes a framework to agilely explore the local biogeophysical responses of climate under different land cover scenarios by means of a computationally inexpensive emulator. The emulator is novel in that it solely represents the land cover forced, biogeophysical responses of climate, and can be used as either a standalone device or supplementary to existing climate model emulators that represent greenhouse gas (GHG)- or Global Mean Temperature (GMT)- forced climate responses. We start off by modelling local minimum, mean and maximum surface temperature responses to tree cover changes by means of a month- and Earth System Model (ESM)- specific Generalised Additive Model (GAM) trained over the whole globe. 2-m air temperature responses are then diagnosed from the modelled minimum and maximum surface temperature responses using observationally derived relationships. Such a two-step procedure accounts for the different physical representations of surface temperature responses to tree cover changes under different ESMs, whilst respecting a definition of 2-m air temperature that is more consistent across ESMs and with observational datasets. In exploring new tree cover change scenarios, we employ a parametric bootstrap sampling method to generate multiple possible temperature responses, such that the uncertainty within the GAM's derived shape of the response is also quantified. The output of the final emulator is demonstrated for the SSP 1-2.6 and 3-7.0 scenarios. Relevant temperature responses are identified as those displaying a clear signal in relation to the surrounding uncertainty in shape of derived response, calculated as the "signal-to-noise" ratio between the sample set mean and sample set variability. The emulator framework developed in this study thus provides a first step towards bridging the information-gap surrounding biogeophysical implications of land cover changes, allowing for smarter land-use decision making.
Shruti Nath et al.
Status: final response (author comments only)
- RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1024', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Dec 2022
- RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1024', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Dec 2022
- AC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1024', Shruti Nath, 25 Feb 2023
Shruti Nath et al.
Shruti Nath et al.
Viewed (geographical distribution)
This manuscript describes an emulation of earth system model output, specific to the biogeophysical responses to forest cover change. Afforestation, reforestation, and reference scenarios are used to assess the model's representation of change in air temperature at and 2 metres above the land surface. The emulator appears to perform well against MPI-ESM, but substantial errors accumulate for extreme afforestation and deforestation scenarios in the other models and against observations.
The research topic is an important and relevant one, as the computational complexity of ESMs increases, as does the importance of assessing and planning land-based climate mitigation responses. The study is well-designed and clearly argued and the manuscript is well-structured and thorough. Overall I would recommend its publication with minor revisions.
What about anything other than surface and 2m air temperature? At least acknowledge its limitations as a metric for all "biophysical" climate impacts (e.g. that it conflates albedo- and latent heat-related surface temperature changes despite their quite different effects on the atmospheric energy balance).
There is no mention of tree species/PFT and how the variation in tree types around the world influences biophysical properties in different biomes. Since tree PFT likely accounts for a major part of the variance of biophysical properties in the ESMs, I would have liked to know how this was translated to the emulator.
The figure captions should fully define all acronyms and variable names. It should not be necessary to read the text in detail to gain a basic understanding of what the figures show.
L5: usage: suggest "accounting for them" to replace "their accountance"
L9 and L413: usage: suggest removing "agilely", which does not feel like a natural word, and its meaning is communicated later in the sentence already (with "by means of a computationally inexpensive manner"
L57: usage: suggest "hereafter" to replace "hereon"
L59: typo: "biobphysical"