Lejeune, Q; Davin, EL; Duveiller, G; Crezee, B; Meier, R; Cescatti, A; Seneviratne, SI (2020). Biases in the albedo sensitivity to do Forestation in CMIP5 models and their impacts on me associated historical radiative forcing. EARTH SYSTEM DYNAMICS, 11(4), 1209-1232.

Climate model biases in the representation of albedo variations between land cover classes contribute to uncertainties on the climate impact of land cover changes since pre-industrial times, especially on the associated radiative forcing. Recent publications of new observation-based datasets offer opportunities to investigate these biases and their impact on historical surface albedo changes in simulations from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Conducting such an assessment is, however, complicated by the non-availability of albedo values for specific land cover classes in CMIP and the limited number of simulations isolating the land use forcing. In this study, we demonstrate the suitability of a new methodology to extract the albedo of trees and crops-grasses in standard climate model simulations. We then apply it to historical runs from 17 CMIP5 models and compare the obtained results to satellite-derived reference data. This allows us to identify substantial biases in the representation of the albedo of trees and crops-grasses as well as the surface albedo change due to the transition between these two land cover classes in the analysed models. Additionally, we reconstruct the local surface albedo changes induced by historical conversions between trees and crops-grasses for 15 CMIP5 models. This allows us to derive estimates of the albedo-induced radiative forcing from land cover changes since pre-industrial times. We find a multi-model range from 0 to -0.17 W m(-2), with a mean value of -0.07 W m(-2). Constraining the surface albedo response to transitions between trees and crops-grasses from the models with satellite-derived data leads to a revised multi-model mean estimate of -0.09 W m(-2) but an increase in the multi-model range. However, after excluding one model with unrealistic conversion rates from trees to crops-grasses the remaining individual model results vary between -0.03 and -0.11 W m(-2). These numbers are at the lower end of the range provided by the IPCC AR5 (-0.15 +/- 0.10 W m(-2)). The approach described in this study can be applied to other model simulations, such as those from CMIP6, especially as the evaluation diagnostic described here has been included in the ESMValTool v2.0.