Evaluating the potential of large-scale simulations to predict carbon fluxes of terrestrial ecosystems over a European Eddy Covariance network
Abstract. This paper reports a comparison between large-scale simulations of three different land surface models (LSMs), ORCHIDEE, ISBA-A-gs and CTESSEL, forced with the same meteorological data, and compared with the carbon fluxes measured at 32 eddy covariance (EC) flux tower sites in Europe. The results show that the three simulations have the best performance for forest sites and the poorest performance for cropland and grassland sites. In addition, the three simulations have difficulties capturing the seasonality of Mediterranean and sub-tropical biomes, characterized by dry summers. This reduced simulation performance is also reflected in deficiencies in diagnosed light-use efficiency (LUE) and vapour pressure deficit (VPD) dependencies compared to observations. Shortcomings in the forcing data may also play a role. These results indicate that more research is needed on the LUE and VPD functions for Mediterranean and sub-tropical biomes. Finally, this study highlights the importance of correctly representing phenology (i.e. leaf area evolution) and management (i.e. rotation–irrigation for cropland, and grazing–harvesting for grassland) to simulate the carbon dynamics of European ecosystems and the importance of ecosystem-level observations in model development and validation.