Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Model description paper
04 Mar 2013
Model description paper |  | 04 Mar 2013

Evaluation of the carbon cycle components in the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM)

J. F. Tjiputra, C. Roelandt, M. Bentsen, D. M. Lawrence, T. Lorentzen, J. Schwinger, Ø. Seland, and C. Heinze

Abstract. The recently developed Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM) is employed for simulations contributing to the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5) experiments and the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-AR5). In this manuscript, we focus on evaluating the ocean and land carbon cycle components of the NorESM, based on the preindustrial control and historical simulations. Many of the observed large scale ocean biogeochemical features are reproduced satisfactorily by the NorESM. When compared to the climatological estimates from the World Ocean Atlas (WOA), the model simulated temperature, salinity, oxygen, and phosphate distributions agree reasonably well in both the surface layer and deep water structure. However, the model simulates a relatively strong overturning circulation strength that leads to noticeable model-data bias, especially within the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW). This strong overturning circulation slightly distorts the structure of the biogeochemical tracers at depth. Advancements in simulating the oceanic mixed layer depth with respect to the previous generation model particularly improve the surface tracer distribution as well as the upper ocean biogeochemical processes, particularly in the Southern Ocean. Consequently, near-surface ocean processes such as biological production and air–sea gas exchange, are in good agreement with climatological observations. The NorESM adopts the same terrestrial model as the Community Earth System Model (CESM1). It reproduces the general pattern of land-vegetation gross primary productivity (GPP) when compared to the observationally based values derived from the FLUXNET network of eddy covariance towers. While the model simulates well the vegetation carbon pool, the soil carbon pool is smaller by a factor of three relative to the observational based estimates. The simulated annual mean terrestrial GPP and total respiration are slightly larger than observed, but the difference between the global GPP and respiration is comparable. Model-data bias in GPP is mainly simulated in the tropics (overestimation) and in high latitudes (underestimation). Within the NorESM framework, both the ocean and terrestrial carbon cycle models simulate a steady increase in carbon uptake from the preindustrial period to the present-day. The land carbon uptake is noticeably smaller than the observations, which is attributed to the strong nitrogen limitation formulated by the land model.