Articles | Volume 1, issue 1
06 Nov 2008
 | 06 Nov 2008

Presentation, calibration and validation of the low-order, DCESS Earth System Model (Version 1)

G. Shaffer, S. Malskær Olsen, and J. O. Pepke Pedersen

Abstract. A new, low-order Earth System Model is described, calibrated and tested against Earth system data. The model features modules for the atmosphere, ocean, ocean sediment, land biosphere and lithosphere and has been designed to simulate global change on time scales of years to millions of years. The atmosphere module considers radiation balance, meridional transport of heat and water vapor between low-mid latitude and high latitude zones, heat and gas exchange with the ocean and sea ice and snow cover. Gases considered are carbon dioxide and methane for all three carbon isotopes, nitrous oxide and oxygen. The ocean module has 100 m vertical resolution, carbonate chemistry and prescribed circulation and mixing. Ocean biogeochemical tracers are phosphate, dissolved oxygen, dissolved inorganic carbon for all three carbon isotopes and alkalinity. Biogenic production of particulate organic matter in the ocean surface layer depends on phosphate availability but with lower efficiency in the high latitude zone, as determined by model fit to ocean data. The calcite to organic carbon rain ratio depends on surface layer temperature. The semi-analytical, ocean sediment module considers calcium carbonate dissolution and oxic and anoxic organic matter remineralisation. The sediment is composed of calcite, non-calcite mineral and reactive organic matter. Sediment porosity profiles are related to sediment composition and a bioturbated layer of 0.1 m thickness is assumed. A sediment segment is ascribed to each ocean layer and segment area stems from observed ocean depth distributions. Sediment burial is calculated from sedimentation velocities at the base of the bioturbated layer. Bioturbation rates and oxic and anoxic remineralisation rates depend on organic carbon rain rates and dissolved oxygen concentrations. The land biosphere module considers leaves, wood, litter and soil. Net primary production depends on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and remineralization rates in the litter and soil are related to mean atmospheric temperatures. Methane production is a small fraction of the soil remineralization. The lithosphere module considers outgassing, weathering of carbonate and silicate rocks and weathering of rocks containing old organic carbon and phosphorus. Weathering rates are related to mean atmospheric temperatures.

A pre-industrial, steady state calibration to Earth system data is carried out. Ocean observations of temperature, carbon 14, phosphate, dissolved oxygen, dissolved inorganic carbon and alkalinity constrain air-sea exchange and ocean circulation, mixing and biogeochemical parameters. Observed calcite and organic carbon distributions and inventories in the ocean sediment help constrain sediment module parameters. Carbon isotopic data and carbonate vs. silicate weathering fractions are used to estimate initial lithosphere outgassing and rock weathering rates. Model performance is tested by simulating atmospheric greenhouse gas increases, global warming and model tracer evolution for the period 1765 to 2000, as forced by prescribed anthropogenic greenhouse gas inputs and other anthropogenic and natural forcing. Long term, transient model behavior is studied with a set of 100 000 year simulations, forced by a slow, 5000 Gt C input of CO2 to the atmosphere, and with a 1.5 million year simulation, forced by a doubling of lithosphere CO2 outgassing.