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Research Abstracts Online
January 2010 - March 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
Department of Soil, Water, and Climate

PI: Peter K. Snyder

The Global Climate Implications of Earth System Change in the Arctic

Satellite data indicate that the transition from grasses to shrubs in the Arctic in response to global warming is rapidly occurring in many tundra regions. Forests will shift northward to maintain an optimal growing environment. The observed and predicted greening-up of the Arctic region results in changes to the global carbon budget and the Northern Hemisphere general circulation. Over the course of this century, warming is expected to increase 4-7°C as greenhouse gas levels continue to rise. These changes are likely to affect the entire planet.

The focus of this project is to evaluate changes in ecosystem carbon storage in the Arctic and the global implications of ecosystem changes through modification of the Northern Hemisphere general circulation. The goal is to understand the processes and interactions that link terrestrial ecosystem changes to the global climate. These researchers use a global climate system model, CCSM3-IBIS, to represent the projected changes in Arctic ecosystems and to quantify the climate effects by way of biophysical and biogeochemical processes. In addition to the proposed CCSM-3 experiments, they are performing regional model ensemble simulations with higher horizontal resolution of 30km or less to better quantify locally expected changes in the earth systems energy budget and resulting changes in the dynamics. Each experiment would consist of at least nine ensembles to reduce model uncertainty. Regional changes are expected to be largest over Siberia and Canada. The researchers are using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to study these regional and hemispheric effects.

Group Members

Keith Harding, Graduate Student
Stefan Liess, Research Associate