Articles | Volume 12, issue 1
Clim. Past, 12, 51–73, 2016
Clim. Past, 12, 51–73, 2016

Research article 18 Jan 2016

Research article | 18 Jan 2016

Terrestrial biosphere changes over the last 120 kyr

B. A. A. Hoogakker1, R. S. Smith2, J. S. Singarayer3,4, R. Marchant5, I. C. Prentice6,7, J. R. M. Allen8, R. S. Anderson9, S. A. Bhagwat10, H. Behling11, O. Borisova12, M. Bush13, A. Correa-Metrio14, A. de Vernal15, J. M. Finch16, B. Fréchette15, S. Lozano-Garcia14, W. D. Gosling17, W. Granoszewski18, E. C. Grimm19, E. Grüger11, J. Hanselman20, S. P. Harrison7,21, T. R. Hill16, B. Huntley8, G. Jiménez-Moreno22, P. Kershaw23, M.-P. Ledru24, D. Magri25, M. McKenzie26, U. Müller27,28, T. Nakagawa29, E. Novenko12, D. Penny30, L. Sadori25, L. Scott31, J. Stevenson32, P. J. Valdes4, M. Vandergoes33, A. Velichko12, C. Whitlock34, and C. Tzedakis35 B. A. A. Hoogakker et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Science, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3AN, UK
  • 2NCAS-Climate and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 3Department of Meteorology and Centre for Past Climate Change, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 4BRIDGE, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS, UK
  • 5Environment Department, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
  • 6AXA Chair of Biosphere and Climate Impacts, Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment and Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, Department of Life Sciences, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot, SL5 7PY, UK
  • 7Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
  • 8Durham University, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK
  • 9School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, Box 5964 Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011, USA
  • 10The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
  • 11Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics, Albrecht von Haller Institute for Plant Sciences, University of Göttingen, Untere Karspüle 2, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
  • 12Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Staromonetny Lane 19, 119017 Moscow, Russia
  • 13Florida Institute of Technology, Biological Sciences, Melbourne, FL 32901, USA
  • 14Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cd. Universitaria, 04510, DF, Coyoacan, Mexico
  • 15GEOTOP, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC, H3C 3P8, Canada
  • 16School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa
  • 17Palaeoecology & Landscape Ecology, IBED, Faculty of Science, University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 94248, 1090 GE Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 18Polish Geological Institute – National Research Institute, Carpathian Branch, Skrzatów 1, 31-560 Kraków, Poland
  • 19Illinois State Museum, Research and Collections Center, 1011 East Ash Street, Springfield, IL 62703, USA
  • 20Westfield State University, Department of Biology, Westfield, MA 01086, USA
  • 21Centre for Past Climate Change and School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Sciences (SAGES), University of Reading, Whiteknights, RG6 6AH, Reading, UK
  • 22Departamento de Estratigrafía y Paleontología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Avda. Fuente Nueva S/N, 18002 Granada, Spain
  • 23School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia
  • 24IRD UMR 226 Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution - Montpellier (ISEM) (UM2 CNRS IRD) Place Eugène Bataillon cc 061, 34095 Montpellier CEDEX, France
  • 25Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Environmental Biology, 00185 Rome, Italy
  • 26Monash University, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia
  • 27Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), 60325 Frankfurt, Germany
  • 28Institute of Geosciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, 60438 Frankfurt, Germany
  • 29Ritsumeikan University, Research Centre for Palaeoclimatology, Shiga 525-8577, Japan
  • 30School of Geosciences, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
  • 31University of the Free State, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Plant Sciences, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
  • 32Department of Archaeology and Natural History, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
  • 33University of Maine, Climate Change Institute, Orono, ME 04469-5790, USA
  • 34Montana State University, Department of Earth Sciences, Bozeman, MT 59717-3480, USA
  • 35UCL Department of Geography, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK

Abstract. A new global synthesis and biomization of long (> 40 kyr) pollen-data records is presented and used with simulations from the HadCM3 and FAMOUS climate models and the BIOME4 vegetation model to analyse the dynamics of the global terrestrial biosphere and carbon storage over the last glacial–interglacial cycle. Simulated biome distributions using BIOME4 driven by HadCM3 and FAMOUS at the global scale over time generally agree well with those inferred from pollen data. Global average areas of grassland and dry shrubland, desert, and tundra biomes show large-scale increases during the Last Glacial Maximum, between ca. 64 and 74 ka BP and cool substages of Marine Isotope Stage 5, at the expense of the tropical forest, warm-temperate forest, and temperate forest biomes. These changes are reflected in BIOME4 simulations of global net primary productivity, showing good agreement between the two models. Such changes are likely to affect terrestrial carbon storage, which in turn influences the stable carbon isotopic composition of seawater as terrestrial carbon is depleted in 13C.

Short summary
In this paper we use two climate models to test how Earth’s vegetation responded to changes in climate over the last 120 000 years, looking at warm interglacial climates like today, cold ice-age glacial climates, and intermediate climates. The models agree well with observations from pollen, showing smaller forested areas and larger desert areas during cold periods. Forests store most terrestrial carbon; the terrestrial carbon lost during cold climates was most likely relocated to the oceans.