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Limited mitigation potential of forestation under a high emissions scenario: results from multi-model and single model ensembles
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  • Tammas Francis Loughran,
  • Tilo Ziehn,
  • Rachel M. Law,
  • Josep G. Canadell,
  • Julia Pongratz,
  • Spencer Liddicoat,
  • Tomohiro Hajima,
  • Akihiko Ito,
  • David M Lawrence,
  • Vivek Arora
Tammas Francis Loughran
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Corresponding Author:tammas.loughran@csiro.au

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Tilo Ziehn
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
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Rachel M. Law
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
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Josep G. Canadell
Global Carbon Project, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere
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Julia Pongratz
Ludwig-Maximilians Universität
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Spencer Liddicoat
UK Meteorology Office
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Tomohiro Hajima
Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
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Akihiko Ito
National Institute for Environmental Studies
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David M Lawrence
National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
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Vivek Arora
Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis
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Forestation is a major component of future long-term emissions reduction and CO$_2$ removal strategies, but the viability of carbon stored in vegetation under future climates is highly uncertain. We analyze the results from seven CMIP6 models for a combined scenario with high fossil fuel emissions (from SSP5-8.5) and moderate forest expansion (from SSP1-2.6). This scenario aims to demonstrate the ability of forestation strategies to mitigate climate change under continued increasing CO$_2$ emissions and includes the potential impacts of increased CO$_2$ concentration and a warming climate on vegetation growth. The model intercomparison shows that moderate forestation as a CO$_2$ removal strategy has limited impact on global climate under a high global warming scenario, despite generating a substantial cumulative carbon sink of 10–60 Pg C over the period 2015–2100. Using a single model ensemble, we show that there are local increases in warm extremes in response to forestation associated with decreases in the number of cool days. Furthermore, we find evidence of a shift in the global carbon balance, whereby increased carbon storage on land of $\sim$25 Pg C by 2100 associated with forestation has a concomitant decrease in the carbon uptake by the ocean due to reduced atmospheric CO$_2$ concentrations.
25 May 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
25 May 2023Published in ESS Open Archive