Global Land Model Development: Time to Shift From Plant Functional Types to Plant Functional Traits
This project will advance global land models by shifting from the current plant functional type (PFT) approach to one that better utilizes the variability of plant traits, including how they vary with key drivers such as temperature, moisture, and atmospheric CO2. Land surface models have developed to include mechanistic representations of vegetation physiology, C and nutrient dynamics in plants and soils, how they respond to changing climate and chemistry, and how those changes might feedback to influence changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases themselves. This work will address these processes. The trait-based approach will improve land modeling by: incorporating global biogeographical patterns and heterogeneity of traits into model parameterization, thus evolving away from a framework that considers large areas of vegetation to have near identical trait values; utilizing what is known about trait-trait, -soil, and -climate relations to improve algorithms used to predict processes at multiple stages; and allowing for improved treatment of physiological responses to environment (such as temperature and/or CO2 response of photosynthesis or respiration). The work will focus on the CLM mocule of the CESM model, but may involve work with other models as well.
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