Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
Research article
31 Jan 2012
Research article |  | 31 Jan 2012

Effect of mosaic representation of vegetation in land surface schemes on simulated energy and carbon balances

R. Li and V. K. Arora

Abstract. Energy and carbon balance implications of representing vegetation using a composite or mosaic approach in a land surface scheme are investigated. In the composite approach the attributes of different plant functional types (PFTs) present in a grid cell are aggregated in some fashion for energy and water balance calculations. The resulting physical environmental conditions (including net radiation, soil moisture and soil temperature) are common to all PFTs and affect their ecosystem processes. In the mosaic approach energy and water balance calculations are performed separately for each PFT tile using its own vegetation attributes, so each PFT "sees" different physical environmental conditions and its carbon balance evolves somewhat differently from that in the composite approach. Simulations are performed at selected boreal, temperate and tropical locations to illustrate the differences caused by using the composite versus mosaic approaches of representing vegetation. These idealized simulations use 50% fractional coverage for each of the two dominant PFTs in a grid cell. Differences in simulated grid averaged primary energy fluxes at selected sites are generally less than 5% between the two approaches. Simulated grid-averaged carbon fluxes and pool sizes at these sites can, however, differ by as much as 46%. Simulation results suggest that differences in carbon balance between the two approaches arise primarily through differences in net radiation which directly affects net primary productivity, and thus leaf area index and vegetation biomass.

Final-revised paper