Articles | Volume 5, issue 5
Geosci. Model Dev., 5, 1091–1108, 2012
Geosci. Model Dev., 5, 1091–1108, 2012

Development and technical paper 06 Sep 2012

Development and technical paper | 06 Sep 2012

Seasonal leaf dynamics for tropical evergreen forests in a process-based global ecosystem model

M. De Weirdt1, H. Verbeeck1, F. Maignan2, P. Peylin2,3, B. Poulter2, D. Bonal4,5, P. Ciais2, and K. Steppe1 M. De Weirdt et al.
  • 1Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Department of Applied Ecology and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • 2Laboratory of Climate Sciences and the Environment (LSCE), Joint Unit of CEA-CNRS, L'Orme des Merisiers, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 3Laboratory of Biogéochimie et Ecologie des Milieux Continentaux (BioEMCO), Thiverval-Grignon, 78850, France
  • 4INRA Kourou, UMR745 Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane, Campus Agronomique, 97387 Kourou Cedex, French Guiana
  • 5INRA Nancy, UMR INRA-UHP1137 Ecologie et Ecophysiologie Forestière, 54280 Champenoux, France

Abstract. The influence of seasonal phenology on canopy photosynthesis in tropical evergreen forests remains poorly understood, and its representation in global ecosystem models is highly simplified, typically with no seasonal variation of canopy leaf properties taken into account. Including seasonal variation in leaf age and photosynthetic capacity could improve the correspondence of global vegetation model outputs with the wet–dry season CO2 patterns measured at flux tower sites in these forests. We introduced a leaf litterfall dynamics scheme in the global terrestrial ecosystem model ORCHIDEE based on seasonal variations in net primary production (NPP), resulting in higher leaf turnover in periods of high productivity. The modifications in the leaf litterfall scheme induce seasonal variation in leaf age distribution and photosynthetic capacity. We evaluated the results of the modification against seasonal patterns of three long-term in-situ leaf litterfall datasets of evergreen tropical forests in Panama, French Guiana and Brazil. In addition, we evaluated the impact of the model improvements on simulated latent heat (LE) and gross primary productivity (GPP) fluxes for the flux tower sites Guyaflux (French Guiana) and Tapajós (km 67, Brazil). The results show that the introduced seasonal leaf litterfall corresponds well with field inventory leaf litter data and times with its seasonality. Although the simulated litterfall improved substantially by the model modifications, the impact on the modelled fluxes remained limited. The seasonal pattern of GPP improved clearly for the Guyaflux site, but no significant improvement was obtained for the Tapajós site. The seasonal pattern of the modelled latent heat fluxes was hardly changed and remained consistent with the observed fluxes. We conclude that we introduced a realistic and generic litterfall dynamics scheme, but that other processes need to be improved in the model to achieve better simulations of GPP seasonal patterns for tropical evergreen forests.