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An introduction to the European Terrestrial Ecosystem Modelling Activity

Authors

  • Martin T. Sykes,

    Corresponding author
    1. Climate Impacts Group, Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Ecology, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden,
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  • I. Colin Prentice,

    1. Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Tatzendpromenade 1a, Postfach 100164, D-07745 Jena, Germany,
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  • Benjamin Smith,

    1. Climate Impacts Group, Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Ecology, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden,
    2. Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Tatzendpromenade 1a, Postfach 100164, D-07745 Jena, Germany,
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  • Wolfgang Cramer,

    1. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegrafenberg, Postfach 60 12 03, D-14412 Potsdam, Germany
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  • Sergey Venevsky

    1. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegrafenberg, Postfach 60 12 03, D-14412 Potsdam, Germany
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Corresponding author: Martin T. Sykes, Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Ecology, c/o Climate Impacts Group Department of Ecology/Plant Ecology, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden. E-mail:martin@planteco.lu.se

Abstract

The objective of the European Terrestrial Ecosystem Modelling Activity (ETEMA) was to address some of the major challenges in developing generalized models to examine responses of natural and seminatural ecosystems to environmental change at the regional to European scale. The approach described herein was to break down the totality of ecosystem functioning into its key components, each with its characteristic spatial and temporal scales. A conceptual framework was developed describing the configuration of these components as modules within a generalized simulation model. The framework describes the key inputs, outputs and state variables, their spatial and temporal contexts, and information flows between modules. The ‘backbone’ of the model is a system of nested timing loops corresponding to the disparate time scales at which different ecosystem processes occur. The framework is a theoretical construct into which ecosystem models at levels of complexity ranging from the very general to the highly detailed can be mapped, and thus provides a guide for development of models for novel, particularly regional-scale, applications. A number of subsystem studies of the major components of ecosystem functioning, i.e. modules of the conceptual framework, are briefly introduced herein. The general aim of the subsystem studies was to identify the key alternative formulations (as opposed to minor variants) and test these against observational data. The various subsystem studies concern planetary boundary layer–ecosystem interactions, ecosystem CO2 and H2O fluxes, vegetation physiology and phenology, biogeography and vegetation dynamics, detritus and SOM dynamics, soil moisture and human and natural disturbances and, as individual papers, they complete this special ETEMA issue.

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