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A Probabilistic Risk Assessment for the Vulnerability of the European Carbon Cycle to Extreme Events: the Ecosystem Perspective : Volume 11, Issue 6 (30/06/2014)

By Rolinski, S.

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Book Id: WPLBN0004004595
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 36
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: A Probabilistic Risk Assessment for the Vulnerability of the European Carbon Cycle to Extreme Events: the Ecosystem Perspective : Volume 11, Issue 6 (30/06/2014)  
Author: Rolinski, S.
Volume: Vol. 11, Issue 6
Language: English
Subject: Science, Biogeosciences, Discussions
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection, Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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Thonicke, K., Walz, A., Rammig, A., Bloh, W. V., Oijen, M. V., & Rolinski, S. (2014). A Probabilistic Risk Assessment for the Vulnerability of the European Carbon Cycle to Extreme Events: the Ecosystem Perspective : Volume 11, Issue 6 (30/06/2014). Retrieved from

Description: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegraphenberg, P.O. Box 60 12 03, 14412 Potsdam, Germany. Extreme meteorological events are most likely to occur more often with climate change, leading to a further acceleration of climate change through potentially devastating effects on terrestrial ecosystems. But not all extreme meteorological events lead to extreme ecosystem response. Unlike most current studies, we therefore focus on pre-defined hazardous ecosystem behaviour and the identification of coinciding meteorological conditions, instead of expected ecosystem damage for a pre-defined meteorological event. We use a simple probabilistic risk assessment based on time series of ecosystem behaviour and meteorological conditions. Given the risk assessment terminology, vulnerability and risk for the previously defined hazard are, thus, estimated on the basis of observed hazardous ecosystem behaviour.

We first adapt this generic approach to extreme responses of terrestrial ecosystems to drought and high temperatures, with defining the hazard as a negative net biome productivity over a 12 months period. Further, we show an instructive application for two selected sites using data for 1981–2010; and then apply the method on pan-European scale addressing the 1981–2010 period and future projections for 2071–2100, both based on numerical modelling results (LPJmL for ecosystem behaviour; REMO-SRES A1B for climate).

Our site-specific results demonstrate the applicability of the proposed method, using the SPEI index to describe the meteorological condition. They also provide examples for their interpretation in case of vulnerability to drought for Spain with the expected value of the SPEI being 0.4 lower for hazardous than for non-hazardous ecosystem behaviour, and of non-vulnerability for Northern Germany, where the expected drought index value for hazard observations relates to wetter conditions than for the non-hazard observations.

The pan-European assessment shows that significant results could be obtained for large areas within Europe. For 2071–2100 they indicate a shift towards vulnerability to drought, mainly in the central and north-eastern parts of Europe, where negative net biome productivity was not used to be associated with drought. In Southern parts of Europe, considerable vulnerability and risk to drought have been identified already under current conditions; in future, the difference in SPEI between hazardous and non-hazardous ecosystem behaviour as well as the frequency of hazardous ecosystem behaviour will increase further. Vulnerability decreased only for the border region between Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, where a change in ecosystem types occurred with less vulnerable plant species in the future.

These first model-based applications indicate the conceptional advantages of the proposed method by focusing on the identification of critical meteorological conditions for which we observe hazardous ecosystem behaviour in the analysed dataset. Application of the method to empirical time series would be an important next step to test the methods.

A probabilistic risk assessment for the vulnerability of the European carbon cycle to extreme events: the ecosystem perspective

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