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David J. Mildrexler, Maosheng Zhao, and Steven W. Running

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Kyle C. McDonald, John S. Kimball, Eni Njoku, Reiner Zimmermann, and Maosheng Zhao

Abstract

Evidence is presented from the satellite microwave remote sensing record that the timing of seasonal thawing and subsequent initiation of the growing season in early spring has advanced by approximately 8 days from 1988 to 2001 for the pan-Arctic basin and Alaska. These trends are highly variable across the region, with North America experiencing a larger advance relative to Eurasia and the entire region. Interannual variability in the timing of spring thaw as detected from the remote sensing record corresponded directly to seasonal anomalies in mean atmospheric CO2 concentrations for the region, including the timing of the seasonal draw down of atmospheric CO2 from terrestrial net primary productivity (NPP) in spring, and seasonal maximum and minimum CO2 concentrations. The timing of the seasonal thaw for a given year was also found to be a significant (P < 0.01) predictor of the seasonal amplitude of atmospheric CO2 for the following year. These results imply that the timing of seasonal thawing in spring has a major impact on terrestrial NPP and net carbon exchange at high latitudes. The initiation of the growing season has also been occurring earlier, on average, over the time period addressed in this study and may be a major mechanism driving observed atmospheric CO2 seasonal cycle advances, vegetation greening, and enhanced productivity for the northern high latitudes.

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Qiaozhen Mu, Maosheng Zhao, John S. Kimball, Nathan G. McDowell, and Steven W. Running

Regional drought and flooding from extreme climatic events are increasing in frequency and severity, with significant adverse ecosocial impacts. Detecting and monitoring drought at regional to global scales remains challenging, despite the availability of various drought indices and widespread availability of potentially synergistic global satellite observational records. The authors have developed a method to generate a near-real-time remotely sensed drought severity index (DSI) to monitor and detect drought globally at 1-km spatial resolution and regular 8-day, monthly, and annual frequencies. The new DSI integrates and exploits information from current operational satellite-based terrestrial evapo-transpiration (ET) and vegetation greenness index [normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI)] products, which are sensitive to vegetation water stress. Specifically, this approach determines the annual DSI departure from its normal (2000–11) using the remotely sensed ratio of ET to potential ET (PET) and NDVI. The DSI results were derived globally and captured documented major regional droughts over the last decade, including severe events in Europe (2003), the Amazon (2005 and 2010), and Russia (2010). The DSI corresponded favorably (correlation coefficient r = 0.43) with the precipitation-based Palmer drought severity index (PDSI), while both indices captured similar wetting and drying patterns. The DSI was also correlated with satellite-based vegetation net primary production (NPP) records, indicating that the combined use of these products may be useful for assessing water supply and ecosystem interactions, including drought impacts on crop yields and forest productivity. The remotely sensed global terrestrial DSI enhances capabilities for nearreal-time drought monitoring to assist decision makers in regional drought assessment and mitigation efforts, and without many of the constraints of more traditional drought monitoring methods.

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Jiafu Mao, Peter E. Thornton, Xiaoying Shi, Maosheng Zhao, and Wilfred M. Post

Abstract

Remote sensing can provide long-term and large-scale products helpful for ecosystem model evaluation. The authors compare monthly gross primary production (GPP) simulated by the Community Land Model, version 4 (CLM4) at a half-degree resolution with satellite estimates of GPP from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) GPP product (MOD17) for the 10-yr period January 2000–December 2009. The assessment is presented in terms of long-term mean carbon assimilation, seasonal mean distributions, amplitude and phase of the annual cycle, and intraannual and interannual GPP variability and their responses to climate variables. For the long-term annual and seasonal means, major GPP patterns are clearly demonstrated by both products. Compared to the MODIS product, CLM4 overestimates the magnitude of GPP for tropical evergreen forests. CLM4 has a longer carbon uptake period than MODIS for most plant functional types (PFTs) with an earlier onset of GPP in spring and a later decline of GPP in autumn. Empirical orthogonal function analysis of the monthly GPP changes indicates that, on the intraannual scale, both CLM4 and MODIS display similar spatial representations and temporal patterns for most terrestrial ecosystems except in northeast Russia and in the very dry region of central Australia. For 2000–09, CLM4 simulated increases in annual averaged GPP over both hemispheres; however, estimates from MODIS suggest a reduction in the Southern Hemisphere (−0.2173 PgC yr−1), balancing the significant increase over the Northern Hemisphere (0.2157 PgC yr−1). The evaluations highlight strengths and weaknesses of the CLM4 primary production and illuminate potential improvements and developments.

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