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An Improved Canopy Integration Scheme for a Land Surface Model with Prognostic Canopy Structure

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  • 1 Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Department of Landscape Research, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
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Abstract

A new logical framework relating the structural and functional characteristics of a vegetation canopy is presented, based on the hypothesis that the ratio of leaf area to leaf mass (specific leaf area) varies linearly with overlying leaf area index within the canopy. Measurements of vertical gradients in specific leaf area and leaf carbon:nitrogen ratio for five species (two deciduous and three evergreen) in a temperate climate support this hypothesis. This new logic is combined with a two-leaf (sunlit and shaded) canopy model to arrive at a new canopy integration scheme for use in the land surface component of a climate system model. An inconsistency in the released model radiation code is identified and corrected. Also introduced here is a prognostic canopy model with coupled carbon and nitrogen cycle dynamics. The new scheme is implemented within the Community Land Model and tested in both diagnostic and prognostic canopy modes. The new scheme increases global gross primary production by 66% (from 65 to 108 Pg carbon yr−1) for diagnostic model simulations driven with reanalysis surface weather, with similar results (117 PgC yr−1) for the new prognostic model. Comparison of model predictions to global syntheses of observations shows generally good agreement for net primary productivity (NPP) across a range of vegetation types, with likely underestimation of NPP in tundra and larch communities. Vegetation carbon stocks are higher than observed in forest systems, but the ranking of stocks by vegetation type is accurately captured.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Peter E. Thornton, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Dr., Boulder, CO 80503. Email: thornton@ucar.edu

Abstract

A new logical framework relating the structural and functional characteristics of a vegetation canopy is presented, based on the hypothesis that the ratio of leaf area to leaf mass (specific leaf area) varies linearly with overlying leaf area index within the canopy. Measurements of vertical gradients in specific leaf area and leaf carbon:nitrogen ratio for five species (two deciduous and three evergreen) in a temperate climate support this hypothesis. This new logic is combined with a two-leaf (sunlit and shaded) canopy model to arrive at a new canopy integration scheme for use in the land surface component of a climate system model. An inconsistency in the released model radiation code is identified and corrected. Also introduced here is a prognostic canopy model with coupled carbon and nitrogen cycle dynamics. The new scheme is implemented within the Community Land Model and tested in both diagnostic and prognostic canopy modes. The new scheme increases global gross primary production by 66% (from 65 to 108 Pg carbon yr−1) for diagnostic model simulations driven with reanalysis surface weather, with similar results (117 PgC yr−1) for the new prognostic model. Comparison of model predictions to global syntheses of observations shows generally good agreement for net primary productivity (NPP) across a range of vegetation types, with likely underestimation of NPP in tundra and larch communities. Vegetation carbon stocks are higher than observed in forest systems, but the ranking of stocks by vegetation type is accurately captured.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Peter E. Thornton, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Dr., Boulder, CO 80503. Email: thornton@ucar.edu

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