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Journal Articles Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences Year : 2020

Constraining Uncertainty in Projected Gross Primary Production With Machine Learning


The terrestrial biosphere is currently slowing down global warming by absorbing about 30% of human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The largest flux of the terrestrial carbon uptake is gross primary production (GPP) defined as the production of carbohydrates by photosynthesis. Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration is expected to increase GPP (“CO2 fertilization effect”). However, Earth system models (ESMs) exhibit a large range in simulated GPP projections. In this study, we combine an existing emergent constraint on CO2 fertilization with a machine learning approach to constrain the spatial variations of multimodel GPP projections. In a first step, we use observed changes in the CO2 seasonal cycle at Cape Kumukahi to constrain the global mean GPP at the end of the 21st century (2091–2100) in Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 simulations with ESMs participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) to 171 ± 12 Gt C yr−1, compared to the unconstrained model range of 156–247 Gt C yr−1. In a second step, we use a machine learning model to constrain gridded future absolute GPP and gridded fractional GPP change in two independent approaches. For this, observational data are fed into the machine learning algorithm that has been trained on CMIP5 data to learn relationships between present‐day physically relevant diagnostics and the target variable. In a leave‐one‐model‐out cross‐validation approach, the machine learning model shows superior performance to the CMIP5 ensemble mean. Our approach predicts an increased GPP change in northern high latitudes compared to regions closer to the equator.
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Dates and versions

hal-03094573 , version 1 (04-01-2021)



Manuel Schlund, Veronika Eyring, Gustau Camps‐valls, Pierre Friedlingstein, Pierre Gentine, et al.. Constraining Uncertainty in Projected Gross Primary Production With Machine Learning. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 2020, 125 (11), ⟨10.1029/2019jg005619⟩. ⟨hal-03094573⟩
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