Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Perspectives on the Future of Land Surface Models and the Challenges of Representing Complex Terrestrial Systems

TitlePerspectives on the Future of Land Surface Models and the Challenges of Representing Complex Terrestrial Systems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Volume12
Number4
Abstract / Summary

Land surface models (LSMs) are a vital tool for understanding, projecting, and predicting the dynamics of the land surface and its role within the Earth system, under global change. Driven by the need to address a set of key questions, LSMs have grown in complexity from simplified representations of land surface biophysics to encompass a broad set of interrelated processes spanning the disciplines of biophysics, biogeochemistry, hydrology, ecosystem ecology, community ecology, human management, and societal impacts. This vast scope and complexity, while warranted by the problems LSMs are designed to solve, has led to enormous challenges in understanding and attributing differences between LSM predictions. Meanwhile, the wide range of spatial scales that govern land surface heterogeneity, and the broad spectrum of timescales in land surface dynamics, create challenges in tractably representing processes in LSMs. We identify three “grand challenges” in the development and use of LSMs, based around these issues: managing process complexity, representing land surface heterogeneity, and understanding parametric dynamics across the broad set of problems asked of LSMs in a changing world. In this review, we discuss the progress that has been made, as well as promising directions forward, for each of these challenges.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2018ms001453
DOI10.1029/2018ms001453
Journal: Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Year of Publication: 2020
Volume: 12
Number: 4
Publication Date: 04/2020

Land surface models (LSMs) are a vital tool for understanding, projecting, and predicting the dynamics of the land surface and its role within the Earth system, under global change. Driven by the need to address a set of key questions, LSMs have grown in complexity from simplified representations of land surface biophysics to encompass a broad set of interrelated processes spanning the disciplines of biophysics, biogeochemistry, hydrology, ecosystem ecology, community ecology, human management, and societal impacts. This vast scope and complexity, while warranted by the problems LSMs are designed to solve, has led to enormous challenges in understanding and attributing differences between LSM predictions. Meanwhile, the wide range of spatial scales that govern land surface heterogeneity, and the broad spectrum of timescales in land surface dynamics, create challenges in tractably representing processes in LSMs. We identify three “grand challenges” in the development and use of LSMs, based around these issues: managing process complexity, representing land surface heterogeneity, and understanding parametric dynamics across the broad set of problems asked of LSMs in a changing world. In this review, we discuss the progress that has been made, as well as promising directions forward, for each of these challenges.

DOI: 10.1029/2018ms001453
Citation:
Fisher, R, and C Koven.  2020.  "Perspectives on the Future of Land Surface Models and the Challenges of Representing Complex Terrestrial Systems."  Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 12(4).  https://doi.org/10.1029/2018ms001453.