A Simple Carbon Cycle Representation for Economic and Policy Analyses

19 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2013 Last revised: 3 Mar 2015

See all articles by Michael Glotter

Michael Glotter

University of Chicago - Department of the Geophysical Sciences; Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP)

Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP)

Joshua Elliott

University of Chicago; Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP)

Nathan Matteson

DePaul University

Elisabeth J. Moyer

University of Chicago - Department of the Geophysical Sciences; University of Chicago - Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP)

Date Written: September 1, 2014

Abstract

Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) that couple the climate system and the economy require a representation of ocean CO2 uptake to translate human-produced emissions to atmospheric concentrations and in turn to climate change. The simple linear carbon cycle representations in most IAMs are not however physical at long timescales, since ocean carbonate chemistry makes CO2 uptake highly nonlinear. No linearized representation can capture the ocean’s dual-mode behavior, with initial rapid uptake and then slow equilibration over ~10,000 years. In a business-as-usual scenario followed by cessation of emissions, the carbon cycle in the 2007 version of the most widely used IAM, DICE (Dynamic Integrated model of Climate and the Economy), produces errors of ~2°C by the year 2300 and ~6°C by the year 3500. We suggest here a simple alternative representation that captures the relevant physics and show that it reproduces carbon uptake in several more complex models to within the inter-model spread. The scheme involves little additional complexity over the DICE model, making it a useful tool for economic and policy analyses.

Keywords: DICE, Carbon Cycle, Ocean Uptake, Integrated Assessment Model, IAM

JEL Classification: O21, Q53, Q54

Suggested Citation

Glotter, Michael and Pierrehumbert, Raymond T. and Elliott, Joshua and Matteson, Nathan and Moyer, Elisabeth J., A Simple Carbon Cycle Representation for Economic and Policy Analyses (September 1, 2014). RDCEP Working Paper No. 13-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2331074 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2331074

Michael Glotter

University of Chicago - Department of the Geophysical Sciences ( email )

5734 South Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP) ( email )

5735 S. Ellis Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP) ( email )

5735 S. Ellis Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Joshua Elliott

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP) ( email )

5735 S. Ellis Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Nathan Matteson

DePaul University ( email )

1 East Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Elisabeth J. Moyer (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of the Geophysical Sciences ( email )

5734 S. Ellis Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

University of Chicago - Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP) ( email )

5735 S. Ellis Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
179
Abstract Views
1,111
rank
165,940
PlumX Metrics