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Grayson Badgley, Joshua B. Fisher, Carlos Jiménez, Kevin P. Tu, and Raghuveer Vinukollu


Evapotranspiration ET is a critical water, energy, and climate variable, and recent work has been published comparing different global products. These comparisons have been difficult to interpret, however, because in most studies the evapotranspiration products were derived from models forced by different input data. Some studies have analyzed the uncertainty in regional evapotranspiration estimates from choice of forcings. Still others have analyzed how multiple models vary with choice of net radiation forcing data. However, no analysis has been conducted to determine the uncertainty in global evapotranspiration estimates attributable to each class of input forcing datasets. Here, one of these models [Priestly–Taylor JPL (PT-JPL)] is run with 19 different combinations of forcing data. These data include three net radiation products (SRB, CERES, and ISCCP), three meteorological datasets [CRU, Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) Aqua, and MERRA], and three vegetation index products [MODIS; Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS); and Fourier-Adjusted, Sensor and Solar Zenith Angle Corrected, Interpolated, Reconstructed (FASIR)]. The choice in forcing data produces an average range in global monthly evapotranspiration of 10.6 W m−2 (~20% of global mean evapotranspiration), with net radiation driving the majority of the difference. Annual average terrestrial ET varied by an average of 8 W m−2, depending on choice of forcings. The analysis shows that the greatest disagreement between input forcings arises from choice of net radiation dataset. In particular, ISCCP data, which are frequently used in global studies, differed widely from the other radiation products examined and resulted in dramatically different estimates of global terrestrial ET.

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Mary E. Whelan, Leander D. L. Anderegg, Grayson Badgley, J. Elliott Campbell, Roisin Commane, Christian Frankenberg, Timothy W. Hilton, Le Kuai, Nicholas Parazoo, Yoichi Shiga, Yuting Wang, and John Worden


Where does the carbon released by burning fossil fuels go? Currently, ocean and land systems remove about half of the CO2 emitted by human activities; the remainder stays in the atmosphere. These removal processes are sensitive to feedbacks in the energy, carbon, and water cycles that will change in the future. Observing how much carbon is taken up on land through photosynthesis is complicated because carbon is simultaneously respired by plants, animals, and microbes. Global observations from satellites and air samples suggest that natural ecosystems take up about as much CO2 as they emit. To match the data, our land models generate imaginary Earths where carbon uptake and respiration are roughly balanced, but the absolute quantities of carbon being exchanged vary widely. Getting the magnitude of the flux is essential to make sure our models are capturing the right pattern for the right reasons. Combining two cutting-edge tools, carbonyl sulfide (OCS) and solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), will help develop an independent answer of how much carbon is being taken up by global ecosystems. Photosynthesis requires CO2, light, and water. OCS provides a spatially and temporally integrated picture of the “front door” of photosynthesis, proportional to CO2 uptake and water loss through plant stomata. SIF provides a high-resolution snapshot of the “side door,” scaling with the light captured by leaves. These two independent pieces of information help us understand plant water and carbon exchange. A coordinated effort to generate SIF and OCS data through satellite, airborne, and ground observations will improve our process-based models to predict how these cycles will change in the future.

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