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Author ORCID ID is 0000000342028071
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  1. Quantifying the ecological patterns of loss of ecosystem function in extreme drought is important to understand the carbon exchange between the land and atmosphere. Rain-use efficiency [RUE; gross primary production (GPP)/precipitation] acts as a typical indicator of ecosystem function. Here in this study, a novel method based on maximum rain-use efficiency (RUE max) was developed to detect losses of ecosystem function globally. Three global GPP datasets from the MODIS remote sensing data (MOD17), ground upscaling FLUXNET observations (MPI-BGC), and process-based model simulations (BESS), and a global gridded precipitation product (CRU) were used to develop annual global RUE datasets for 2001–2011.more » Large, well-known extreme drought events were detected, e.g. 2003 drought in Europe, 2002 and 2011 drought in the U.S., and 2010 drought in Russia. Our results show that extreme drought-induced loss of ecosystem function could impact 0.9% ± 0.1% of earth's vegetated land per year and was mainly distributed in semi-arid regions. The reduced carbon uptake caused by functional loss (0.14 ± 0.03 PgC/yr) could explain >70% of the interannual variation in GPP in drought-affected areas (p ≤ 0.001). Our results highlight the impact of ecosystem function loss in semi-arid regions with increasing precipitation variability and dry land expansion expected in the future.« less
  2. The ability to forecast ecological carbon cycling is imperative to land management in a world where past carbon fluxes are no longer a clear guide in the Anthropocene. However, carbon–flux forecasting has not been practiced routinely like numerical weather prediction. This study explored (1) the relative contributions of model forcing data and parameters to uncertainty in forecasting flux– versus pool–based carbon cycle variables and (2) the time points when temperature and CO 2 treatments may cause statistically detectable differences in those variables. We developed an online forecasting workflow (Ecological Platform for Assimilation of Data (EcoPAD)), which facilitates iterative data–model integration.more » EcoPAD automates data transfer from sensor networks, data assimilation, and ecological forecasting. We used the Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Experiments data collected from 2011 to 2014 to constrain the parameters in the Terrestrial Ecosystem Model, forecast carbon cycle responses to elevated CO 2 and a gradient of warming from 2015 to 2024, and specify uncertainties in the model output. Our results showed that data assimilation substantially reduces forecasting uncertainties. Interestingly, we found that the stochasticity of future external forcing contributed more to the uncertainty of forecasting future dynamics of C flux–related variables than model parameters. However, the parameter uncertainty primarily contributes to the uncertainty in forecasting C pool–related response variables. Given the uncertainties in forecasting carbon fluxes and pools, our analysis showed that statistically different responses of fast–turnover pools to various CO 2 and warming treatments were observed sooner than slow–turnover pools. In conclusion, our study has identified the sources of uncertainties in model prediction and thus leads to improve ecological carbon cycling forecasts in the future.« less
  3. The terrestrial carbon (C) cycle has been commonly represented by a series of C balance equations to track C influxes into and effluxes out of individual pools in earth system models (ESMs). This representation matches our understanding of C cycle processes well but makes it difficult to track model behaviors. It is also computationally expensive, limiting the ability to conduct comprehensive parametric sensitivity analyses. To overcome these challenges, we have developed a matrix approach, which reorganizes the C balance equations in the original ESM into one matrix equation without changing any modeled C cycle processes and mechanisms. We applied the matrixmore » approach to the Community Land Model (CLM4.5) with vertically-resolved biogeochemistry. The matrix equation exactly reproduces litter and soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics of the standard CLM4.5 across different spatial-temporal scales. The matrix approach enables effective diagnosis of system properties such as C residence time and attribution of global change impacts to relevant processes. We illustrated, for example, the impacts of CO 2 fertilization on litter and SOC dynamics can be easily decomposed into the relative contributions from C input, allocation of external C into different C pools, nitrogen regulation, altered soil environmental conditions, and vertical mixing along the soil profile. In addition, the matrix tool can accelerate model spin-up, permit thorough parametric sensitivity tests, enable pool-based data assimilation, and facilitate tracking and benchmarking of model behaviors. Altogether, the matrix approach can make a broad range of future modeling activities more efficient and effective.« less
  4. We report that accurate simulation of soil thermal dynamics is essential for realistic prediction of soil biogeochemical responses to climate change. To facilitate ecological forecasting at the Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental change site, we incorporated a soil temperature module into a Terrestrial ECOsystem (TECO) model by accounting for surface energy budget, snow dynamics, and heat transfer among soil layers and during freeze-thaw events. We conditioned TECO with detailed soil temperature and snow depth observations through data assimilation before the model was used for forecasting. The constrained model reproduced variations in observed temperature from different soil layers,more » the magnitude of snow depth, the timing of snowfall and snowmelt, and the range of frozen depth. The conditioned TECO forecasted probabilistic distributions of soil temperature dynamics in six soil layers, snow, and frozen depths under temperature treatments of +0.0, +2.25, +4.5, +6.75, and +9.0°C. Air warming caused stronger elevation in soil temperature during summer than winter due to winter snow and ice. And soil temperature increased more in shallow soil layers in summer in response to air warming. Whole ecosystem warming (peat + air warmings) generally reduced snow and frozen depths. The accuracy of forecasted snow and frozen depths relied on the precision of weather forcing. Uncertainty is smaller for forecasting soil temperature but large for snow and frozen depths. Lastly, timely and effective soil thermal forecast, constrained through data assimilation that combines process-based understanding and detailed observations, provides boundary conditions for better predictions of future biogeochemical cycles.« less

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