Submitted as: development and technical paper
14 Mar 2022
Submitted as: development and technical paper | 14 Mar 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Improved representation of plant physiology in the JULES-vn5.6 land surface model: Photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and thermal acclimation

Rebecca J. Oliver1, Lina M. Mercado1,2, Doug B. Clark1, Chris Huntingford1, Christopher M. Taylor1,5, Pier Luigi Vidale3, Patrick C. McGuire3, Markus Todt3, Sonja Folwell1, Valiyaveetil Shamsudheen Semeena1, and Belinda E. Medlyn4 Rebecca J. Oliver et al.
  • 1UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK
  • 2College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, UK
  • 3Department of Meteorology and National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Reading University, Reading RG6 6BB, UK
  • 4Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Australia
  • 5National Centre for Earth Observation, Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK

Abstract. Carbon and water cycle dynamics of vegetation are controlled primarily by photosynthesis and stomatal conductance (gs). Our goal is to improve the representation of these key physiological processes within the JULES land surface model, with a particular focus on refining the temperature sensitivity of photosynthesis, impacting modelled carbon, energy and water fluxes. We test (1) an implementation of the Farquhar et al. (1980) photosynthesis scheme and associated plant functional type-dependent photosynthetic temperature response functions, (2) the optimality-based gs scheme from Medlyn et al. (2011), and (3) the Kattge and Knorr (2007) photosynthetic capacity thermal acclimation scheme. New parameters for each model configuration are adopted from recent large observational datasets that synthesise global experimental data. These developments to JULES incorporate current physiological understanding of vegetation behaviour into the model, and enable users to derive direct links between model parameters and on-going measurement campaigns that refine such parameter values. Replacement of the original Collatz et al. (1991) C3 photosynthesis model with the Farquhar scheme results in large changes in GPP for current-day, with ~10 % reduction in seasonal (June–August; JJA and December–February; DJF) mean GPP in tropical forests, and ~20 % increase in the northern high latitude forests in JJA. The optimality-based gs model decreases the latent heat flux for the present-day (~10 %, with an associated increase in sensible heat flux) across regions dominated by needleleaf evergreen forest in the northern hemisphere summer. Thermal acclimation of photosynthesis coupled with the Medlyn gs scheme reduced tropical forest GPP by up to 5 %, and increased GPP in the high northern latitude forests by between 2 to 5 %. Evaluation of simulated carbon and water fluxes by each model configuration against global data products show this latter configuration generates improvements in these key areas. Thermal acclimation of photosynthesis coupled with the Medlyn gs scheme improved modelled carbon fluxes in tropical and high northern latitude forests in JJA, and improved the simulation of evapotranspiration across much of the northern hemisphere in JJA. Having established good model performance for the contemporary period, we force this new version of JULES offline with a future climate scenario corresponding to rising atmospheric greenhouse gases (SSP5 RCP8.5). In particular, these calculations allow understanding of the effects of long-term warming. We find that the impact of thermal acclimation coupled with the optimality-based gs model on simulated fluxes increases latent heat flux (+50 %) by year 2050 compared to the JULES model configuration without acclimation. This new JULES configuration also projects increased GPP across tropical (+10 %) and northern latitude regions (+30 %) by 2050. We conclude that thermal acclimation of photosynthesis with the Farquhar photosynthesis scheme and the new optimality-based gs scheme together improve the simulation of carbon and water fluxes for current-day, and has a large impact on modelled future carbon cycle dynamics in a warming world.

Rebecca J. Oliver et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gmd-2022-11', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on gmd-2022-11', Bob Su, 28 Apr 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on gmd-2022-11', Anonymous Referee #3, 05 May 2022

Rebecca J. Oliver et al.

Rebecca J. Oliver et al.


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Short summary
We introduce new representations of plant physiological processes into a land surface model. Including new biological understanding improves modelled carbon and water fluxes for present-day in tropical and northern latitude forests. Future climate simulations demonstrate the sensitivity of photosynthesis to temperature is important for modelling carbon cycle dynamics in a warming world. Accurate representation of these processes in models is necessary for robust predictions of climate change.