GFDL's ESM2 global coupled climate-carbon earth system models. Part II: Carbon system formulation and baseline simulation characteristics

John P. Dunne, Jasmin G. John, Selena Shevliakova, Ronald J. Stouffer, John P. Krasting, Sergey L. Malyshev, P. C.D. Milly, Lori T. Sentman, Alistair J. Adcroft, William Cooke, Krista A. Dunne, Stephen M. Griffies, Robert W. Hallberg, Matthew J. Harrison, Hiram Levy, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Peter J. Phillips, Niki Zadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

514 Scopus citations


The authors describe carbon system formulation and simulation characteristics of two new global coupled carbon-climate Earth System Models (ESM), ESM2M and ESM2G. These models demonstrate good climate fidelity as described in part I of this study while incorporating explicit and consistent carbon dynamics. The two models differ almost exclusively in the physical ocean component; ESM2M uses the Modular Ocean Model version 4.1 with vertical pressure layers, whereas ESM2G uses generalized ocean layer dynamics with a bulk mixed layer and interior isopycnal layers. On land, both ESMs include a revised land model to simulate competitive vegetation distributions and functioning, including carbon cycling among vegetation, soil, and atmosphere. In the ocean, both models include new biogeochemical algorithms including phytoplankton functional group dynamics with flexible stoichiometry. Preindustrial simulations are spun up to give stable, realistic carbon cycle means and variability. Significant differences in simulation characteristics of these two models are described. Because of differences in oceanic ventilation rates, ESM2M has a stronger biological carbon pump but weaker northward implied atmospheric CO2 transport than ESM2G. The major advantages of ESM2G over ESM2M are improved representation of surface chlorophyll in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and thermocline nutrients and oxygen in the North Pacific. Improved tree mortality parameters in ESM2G produced more realistic carbon accumulation in vegetation pools. The major advantages of ESM2M over ESM2G are reduced nutrient and oxygen biases in the southern and tropical oceans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2247-2267
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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