Forest biomass allometry in global land surface models

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Abstract

[1] A number of global land surface models simulate photosynthesis, respiration, and disturbance, important flows in the carbon cycle that are widely tested against flux towers and CO2 concentration gradients. The resulting forest biomass is examined in this paper for its resemblance to realistic stands, which are characterized using allometric theory. The simulated biomass pools largely do not conform to widely observed allometry, particularly for young stands. The best performing models had an explicit treatment of stand-thinning processes, which brought the slope of the allometry of these models closer to observations. Additionally, models that had relatively shorter wood turnover times performed were generally closer to observed allometries. The discrepancy between the pool distribution between models and data suggests estimates of NEE have biases when integrated over the long term, as compared to observed biomass data, and could therefore compromise long-term predictions of land carbon sources and sinks. We think that this presents a practical obstacle for improving models by informing them better with data. The approach taken in this paper, examining biomass pools allometrically, offers a simple approach to improving the characteristic behaviors of global models with the relatively sparse data that is available globally by forest inventory.

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