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Min Chen and Qianlai Zhuang

Abstract

The authors use a spatially explicit parameterization method and the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM) to quantify the carbon dynamics of forest ecosystems in the conterminous United States. Six key parameters that govern the rates of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in TEM are selected for calibration. Spatially explicit data for carbon and nitrogen pools and fluxes are used to calibrate the six key parameters to more adequately account for the spatial heterogeneity of ecosystems in estimating regional carbon dynamics. The authors find that a spatially explicit parameterization results in vastly different carbon exchange rates relative to a parameterization conducted for representative ecosystem sites. The new parameterization method estimates that the net ecosystem production (NEP), the annual gross primary production (GPP), and the net primary production (NPP) of the regional forest ecosystems are 61% (0.02 Pg C; 1 Pg = 1015 g) higher and 2% (0.11 Pg C) and 19% (0.45 Pg C) lower, respectively, than the values obtained using the traditional parameterization method for the period 1948–2000. The estimated vegetation carbon and soil organic carbon pool sizes are 51% (18.73 Pg C) lower and 29% (7.40 Pg C) higher. This study suggests that, to more adequately quantify regional carbon dynamics, spatial data for carbon and nitrogen pools and fluxes should be developed and used with the spatially explicit parameterization method.

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