Articles | Volume 11, issue 23
Research article
04 Dec 2014
Research article |  | 04 Dec 2014

Simulation of tree-ring widths with a model for primary production, carbon allocation, and growth

G. Li, S. P. Harrison, I. C. Prentice, and D. Falster

Abstract. We present a simple, generic model of annual tree growth, called "T". This model accepts input from a first-principles light-use efficiency model (the "P" model). The P model provides values for gross primary production (GPP) per unit of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). Absorbed PAR is estimated from the current leaf area. GPP is allocated to foliage, transport tissue, and fine-root production and respiration in such a way as to satisfy well-understood dimensional and functional relationships. Our approach thereby integrates two modelling approaches separately developed in the global carbon-cycle and forest-science literature. The T model can represent both ontogenetic effects (the impact of ageing) and the effects of environmental variations and trends (climate and CO2) on growth. Driven by local climate records, the model was applied to simulate ring widths during the period 1958–2006 for multiple trees of Pinus koraiensis from the Changbai Mountains in northeastern China. Each tree was initialised at its actual diameter at the time when local climate records started. The model produces realistic simulations of the interannual variability in ring width for different age cohorts (young, mature, and old). Both the simulations and observations show a significant positive response of tree-ring width to growing-season total photosynthetically active radiation (PAR0) and the ratio of actual to potential evapotranspiration (α), and a significant negative response to mean annual temperature (MAT). The slopes of the simulated and observed relationships with PAR0 and α are similar; the negative response to MAT is underestimated by the model. Comparison of simulations with fixed and changing atmospheric CO2 concentration shows that CO2 fertilisation over the past 50 years is too small to be distinguished in the ring-width data, given ontogenetic trends and interannual variability in climate.

Final-revised paper