Analyzing the causes and spatial pattern of the European 2003 carbon flux anomaly using seven models
Globally, the year 2003 is associated with one of the largest atmospheric CO2 rises on record. In the same year, Europe experienced an anomalously strong flux of CO2 from the land to the atmosphere associated with an exceptionally dry and hot summer in Western and Central Europe. In this study we analyze the magnitude of this carbon flux anomaly and key driving ecosystem processes using simulations of seven terrestrial ecosystem models of different complexity and types (process-oriented and diagnostic). We address the following questions: (1) how large were deviations in the net European carbon flux in 2003 relative to a short-term baseline (1998–2002) and to longer-term variations in annual fluxes (1980 to 2005), (2) which European regions exhibited the largest changes in carbon fluxes during the growing season 2003, and (3) which ecosystem processes controlled the carbon balance anomaly .
In most models the prominence of 2003 anomaly in carbon fluxes declined with lengthening of the reference period from one year to 16 years. The 2003 anomaly for annual net carbon fluxes ranged between 0.35 and –0.63 Pg C for a reference period of one year and between 0.17 and –0.37 Pg C for a reference period of 16 years for the whole Europe.
In Western and Central Europe, the anomaly in simulated net ecosystem productivity (NEP) over the growing season in 2003 was outside the 1σ variance bound of the carbon flux anomalies for 1980–2005 in all models. The estimated anomaly in net carbon flux ranged between –42 and –158 Tg C for Western Europe and between 24 and –129 Tg C for Central Europe depending on the model used. All models responded to a dipole pattern of the climate anomaly in 2003. In Western and Central Europe NEP was reduced due to heat and drought. In contrast, lower than normal temperatures and higher air humidity decreased NEP over Northeastern Europe. While models agree on the sign of changes in simulated NEP and gross primary productivity in 2003 over Western and Central Europe, models diverge in the estimates of anomalies in ecosystem respiration. Except for two process models which simulate respiration increase, most models simulated a decrease in ecosystem respiration in 2003. The diagnostic models showed a weaker decrease in ecosystem respiration than the process-oriented models. Based on the multi-model simulations we estimated the total carbon flux anomaly over the 2003 growing season in Europe to range between –0.02 and –0.27 Pg C relative to the net carbon flux in 1998–2002.