Assessing the ability of three land ecosystem models to simulate gross carbon uptake of forests from boreal to Mediterranean climate in Europe
1Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
2International Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modelling, Hamburg, Germany
3Laboratory for Climate Sciences and the Environment (LSCE), Joint Unit of CEA-CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
4Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium
5College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-5752, USA
6School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
Abstract. We evaluate three terrestrial biosphere models (LPJ, Orchidee, Biome-BGC) with respect to their capacity to simulate climate related trends in gross primary production (GPP) of forests in Europe. We compare simulated GPP and leaf area index (LAI) with GPP estimates based on flux separated eddy covariance measurements of net ecosystem exchange (NEE) and LAI measurements along a gradient in mean annual temperature from the boreal to the Mediterranean.The three models capture qualitatively the pattern suggested by the site data: an increase in GPP from boreal to temperate and a subsequent decline from temperate to Mediterranean climates. The models consistently predict higher GPP for boreal and lower GPP for Mediterranean forests. Based on a decomposition of GPP into absorbed photosynthetic active radiation (APAR) and radiation use efficiency (RUE), the overestimation of GPP for the boreal zone appears to be primarily related to too high simulated LAI - and thus light absorption (APAR) – rather than too high radiation use efficiency. On average, the models compare similarly well to the site GPP data (RMSE of ~30% or 420 gC/m2/yr) but differences are apparent for different ecosystem types. Given uncertainties about the accuracy in model drivers, a potential representation bias of the eddy covariance sites, and uncertainties related to the method of deriving GPP from eddy covariance measurements data, we find the agreement between site data and simulations acceptable, providing confidence in simulations of GPP for European forests.