Articles | Volume 8, issue 6
Research article
21 Jun 2011
Research article |  | 21 Jun 2011

A systematic approach for comparing modeled biospheric carbon fluxes across regional scales

D. N. Huntzinger, S. M. Gourdji, K. L. Mueller, and A. M. Michalak

Abstract. Given the large differences between biospheric model estimates of regional carbon exchange, there is a need to understand and reconcile the predicted spatial variability of fluxes across models. This paper presents a set of quantitative tools that can be applied to systematically compare flux estimates despite the inherent differences in model formulation. The presented methods include variogram analysis, variable selection, and geostatistical regression. These methods are evaluated in terms of their ability to assess and identify differences in spatial variability in flux estimates across North America among a small subset of models, as well as differences in the environmental drivers that best explain the spatial variability of predicted fluxes. The examined models are the Simple Biosphere (SiB 3.0), Carnegie Ames Stanford Approach (CASA), and CASA coupled with the Global Fire Emissions Database (CASA GFEDv2), and the analyses are performed on model-predicted net ecosystem exchange, gross primary production, and ecosystem respiration. Variogram analysis reveals consistent seasonal differences in spatial variability among modeled fluxes at a 1° × 1° spatial resolution. However, significant differences are observed in the overall magnitude of the carbon flux spatial variability across models, in both net ecosystem exchange and component fluxes. Results of the variable selection and geostatistical regression analyses suggest fundamental differences between the models in terms of the factors that explain the spatial variability of predicted flux. For example, carbon flux is more strongly correlated with percent land cover in CASA GFEDv2 than in SiB or CASA. Some of the differences in spatial patterns of estimated flux can be linked back to differences in model formulation, and would have been difficult to identify simply by comparing net fluxes between models. Overall, the systematic approach presented here provides a set of tools for comparing predicted grid-scale fluxes across models, a task that has historically been difficult unless standardized forcing data were prescribed, or a detailed sensitivity analysis performed.

Final-revised paper