skip to main content


Title: Asymmetric responses of primary productivity to altered precipitation simulated by ecosystem models across three long-term grassland sites

Field measurements of aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) in temperate grasslands suggest that both positive and negative asymmetric responses to changes in precipitation (P) may occur. Under normal range of precipitation variability, wet years typically result in ANPP gains being larger than ANPP declines in dry years (positive asymmetry), whereas increases in ANPP are lower in magnitude in extreme wet years compared to reductions during extreme drought (negative asymmetry). Whether the current generation of ecosystem models with a coupled carbon–water system in grasslands are capable of simulating these asymmetric ANPP responses is an unresolved question. For this study, we evaluated the simulated responses of temperate grassland primary productivity to scenarios of altered precipitation with 14 ecosystem models at three sites: Shortgrass steppe (SGS), Konza Prairie (KNZ) and Stubai Valley meadow (STU), spanning a rainfall gradient from dry to moist. We found that (1) the spatial slopes derived from modeled primary productivity and precipitation across sites were steeper than the temporal slopes obtained from inter-annual variations, which was consistent with empirical data; (2) the asymmetry of the responses of modeled primary productivity under normal inter-annual precipitation variability differed among models, and the mean of the model ensemble suggested a negative asymmetrymore » across the three sites, which was contrary to empirical evidence based on filed observations; (3) the mean sensitivity of modeled productivity to rainfall suggested greater negative response with reduced precipitation than positive response to an increased precipitation under extreme conditions at the three sites; and (4) gross primary productivity (GPP), net primary productivity (NPP), aboveground NPP (ANPP) and belowground NPP (BNPP) all showed concave-down nonlinear responses to altered precipitation in all the models, but with different curvatures and mean values. Our results indicated that most models overestimate the negative drought effects and/or underestimate the positive effects of increased precipitation on primary productivity under normal climate conditions, highlighting the need for improving eco-hydrological processes in those models in the future.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [3] ; ORCiD logo [6] ;  [7] ; ORCiD logo [8] ;  [1] ;  [1] ; ORCiD logo [9] ;  [10] ; ORCiD logo [11] ; ORCiD logo [12] ;  [13] ;  [14] ;  [15] ; ORCiD logo [16] more »;  [5] ; ORCiD logo [17] ; ORCiD logo [17] ;  [18] ; ORCiD logo [16] ;  [5] ; ORCiD logo [19] ;  [19] ; ORCiD logo [19] ;  [10] ;  [5] ;  [20] ;  [21] ;  [5] ;  [22] ;  [23] ;  [24] ; ORCiD logo [16] ;  [25] ;  [26] ;  [1] ;  [1] « less
  1. Peking Univ., Beijing (China). Sino-French Inst. for Earth System Science and College of Urban and Environmental Sciences
  2. Pierre Simon Laplace Inst., CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Gif-sur-Yvette (France). Lab. of Climate Sciences and Environment (LSCE)
  3. Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO (United States). Dept. of Biology and Graduate Degree program in Ecology
  4. Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States). Dept. of Microbiology and Plant Biology
  5. Univ. of Innsbruck (Austria). Inst. of Ecology
  6. Univ. of Antwerp (Belgium). Dept. of Biology
  7. ETH Zurich (Switzerland). Inst. of Environmental Engineering
  8. ETH Zurich (Switzerland). Inst. of Atmospheric and Climate Science
  9. National Inst. for Environmental Studies (NIES), Tsukuba (Japan)
  10. Karlsruhe Inst. of Technology (KIT) Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany)
  11. Univ. of Exeter (United Kingdom). College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
  12. Univ. of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW (Australia). ARC Center of Excellence for Climate System Science
  13. Imperial College, London (United Kingdom). Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  14. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States)
  15. Univ. of Quebec, Montreal, QC (Canada). Inst. of Environment Sciences and Biology Science Dept.; Northwest A&F Univ., Yangling (China). State Key Lab. of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau
  16. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Environmental Sciences Division and Climate Change Science Inst.
  17. Auburn Univ., AL (United States). International Center for Climate and Global Change Research and School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
  18. Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK (United States). Inst. of Arctic Biology
  19. Max Planck Inst. for Meteorology, Hamburg (Germany)
  20. Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). School of Geosciences; Australian National Univ., Canberra, ACT (Australia). Research School of Biology
  21. Northwest A&F Univ., Yangling (China). State Key Lab. of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau
  22. Norwegian Inst. of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), As (Norway)
  23. Auburn Univ., AL (United States). International Center for Climate and Global Change Research and School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA (United States)
  24. Univ. of Exeter (United Kingdom). College of Life and Environmental Sciences
  25. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Aspendale, VIC (Australia). Oceans and Atmosphere (O&A)
  26. Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (United States). Dept. of Microbiology and Plant Biology; Northern Arizona Univ., Flagstaff, AZ (United States). Center for Ecosystem Sciences and Society and Dept. of Biological Sciences
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; 41530528; SyG-2013-610028 IMBALANCE-P; ES1308; 603542
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Biogeosciences (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Biogeosciences (Online); Journal Volume: 15; Journal Issue: 11; Journal ID: ISSN 1726-4189
European Geosciences Union
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23). Climate and Environmental Sciences Division; National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC); European Research Council (ERC); European Union (EU); Austrian Science Fund (FWF); Austrian Academy of Sciences (OAW)
Contributing Orgs:
Potsdam Inst. for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam (Germany); Vienna Univ. of Technology (TU Wien), Vienna (Austria)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier: