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Journal Article

Modelling global terrestrial vegetation climate interaction

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Claussen, M., Brovkin, V., Ganopolski, A., Kubatzki, C., & Petoukhov, V. (1998). Modelling global terrestrial vegetation climate interaction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 353(1365), 53-63. doi:10.1098/rstb.1998.0190.

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By coupling an atmospheric general circulation model asynchronously with an equilibrium vegetation model, manifold equilibrium solutions of the atmosphere-biosphere system have been explored. It is found that under present-day conditions of the Earth's orbital parameters and sea-surface temperatures, two stable equilibria of vegetation patterns are possible: one corresponding to present-day sparse vegetation in the Sahel, the second solution yielding savannah which extends far into the south-western part of the Sahara. A similar picture is obtained for conditions during the last glacial maximum (21 000 years before present (BP)). For the mid-Holocene (6000 years BP), however, the model finds only one solution: the green Sahara. We suggest that this intransitive behaviour of the atmosphere-biosphere is related to a westward shift of the Hadley-Walker circulation. A conceptual model of atmosphere-vegetation dynamics is used to interpret the bifurcation as well as its change in terms of stability theory.