ALM-FATES: Using dynamic vegetation and demography to capture changes in forest carbon cycling and competition at the global scale

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 08:00
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The inclusion of dynamic vegetation demography in Earth System Models (ESMs) has been identified as a critical step in moving ESMs towards more realistic representations of plant ecology and the processes that govern climatically important fluxes of carbon, energy, and water. Successful application of dynamic vegetation models, and process-based approaches to simulate plant demography, succession, and response to disturbances without climate envelopes at the global scale is a challenging endeavor. We integrated demographic processes using the Functionally-Assembled Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator (FATES) in the newly developed ACME Land Model (ALM). We then use an ALM-FATES globally gridded simulation for the first time to investigate plant functional type (PFT) distributions and dynamic turnover rates. Initial global simulations successfully include six interacting and competing PFTs (ranging from tropical to boreal, evergreen, deciduous, needleleaf and broadleaf); including more PFTs is planned. Global maps of net primary productivity, leaf area index, and total vegetation biomass by ALM-FATES matched patterns and values when compared to CLM4.5-BGC and MODIS estimates. We also present techniques for PFT parameterization based on the Predictive Ecosystem Analyzer (PEcAn), field based turnover rates, improved PFT groupings based on trait-tradeoffs, and improved representation of multiple canopy positions. Finally, we applied the improved ALM-FATES model at a central Amazon tropical and western U.S. temperate sites and demonstrate improvements in predicted PFT size- and age-structure and regional distribution. Results from the Amazon tropical site investigate the ability and magnitude of a tropical forest to act as a carbon sink by 2100 with a doubling of CO2, while results from the temperate sites investigate the response of forest mortality with increasing droughts.

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