, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 201-210

Vegetation responses and feedbacks to climate: a review of models and processes

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Vegetation changes both in stationary and changing climates. Such changes can significantly affect hydrological and climate dynamics. Probabilistic, inferential, empirical, statistical, threshold, ecophysiological, and mechanistic vegetation models provide tools and ideas to construct coupled climate and vegetation schemes to study climate/vegetation feedbacks. Their logic is discussed, typical applications are presented, and their usefulness is assessed. Developing coupled climate and vegetation schemes also implies tackling scaling issues explicitly. Just as the Courant-Friedrichs-Lewy (CFL) criterion guarantees that information is not transferred faster through space than time in climate models, information should be transmitted fast enough in vegetation models for the landscape to register vegetation responses. To guarantee that this is the case, a ‘migration criterion’, or ‘m criterion’, is proposed. The CFL criterion and the m criterion set formal constraints on the design of coupled atmosphere and vegetation schemes. In particular, the ratio of climate and vegetation space scales should be approximately five orders of magnitude less than the ratio of climate and vegetation time scales.