Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 14, issue 20
Biogeosciences, 14, 4663–4690, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-14-4663-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 14, 4663–4690, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-14-4663-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Reviews and syntheses 23 Oct 2017

Reviews and syntheses | 23 Oct 2017

Reviews and syntheses: Field data to benchmark the carbon cycle models for tropical forests

Deborah A. Clark1, Shinichi Asao2,3, Rosie Fisher4, Sasha Reed5, Peter B. Reich6,7, Michael G. Ryan2,8, Tana E. Wood9, and Xiaojuan Yang10 Deborah A. Clark et al.
  • 1Department of Biology, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis, MO 63121, USA
  • 2Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1499, USA
  • 3ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
  • 4Terrestrial Sciences Section, Climate and Global Dynamics, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
  • 5US Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Moab, UT 84532, USA
  • 6Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
  • 7Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia
  • 8Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA
  • 9International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, Rio Piedras, PR 00926, USA
  • 10Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Climate Change Science Institute and Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6335, USA

Abstract. For more accurate projections of both the global carbon (C) cycle and the changing climate, a critical current need is to improve the representation of tropical forests in Earth system models. Tropical forests exchange more C, energy, and water with the atmosphere than any other class of land ecosystems. Further, tropical-forest C cycling is likely responding to the rapid global warming, intensifying water stress, and increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. Projections of the future C balance of the tropics vary widely among global models. A current effort of the modeling community, the ILAMB (International Land Model Benchmarking) project, is to compile robust observations that can be used to improve the accuracy and realism of the land models for all major biomes. Our goal with this paper is to identify field observations of tropical-forest ecosystem C stocks and fluxes, and of their long-term trends and climatic and CO2 sensitivities, that can serve this effort. We propose criteria for reference-level field data from this biome and present a set of documented examples from old-growth lowland tropical forests. We offer these as a starting point towards the goal of a regularly updated consensus set of benchmark field observations of C cycling in tropical forests.

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Improved modeling of tropical-forest carbon cycling is urgently needed to project future climate and to guide global policy for greenhouse gases. Tropical forests store and process immense amounts of carbon, and their carbon cycling may be responding to climate change. Our goal with this paper, a multidisciplinary collaboration between modelers and field ecologists, is to identify reference-level field data from tropical forests that can be used to guide the models for these key ecosystems.
Improved modeling of tropical-forest carbon cycling is urgently needed to project future climate...
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