International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 449–464 | Cite as

Simulating stand climate, phenology, and photosynthesis of a forest stand with a process-based growth model

  • Thomas RötzerEmail author
  • Michael Leuchner
  • Angela J. Nunn
Original Paper


In the face of climate change and accompanying risks, forest management in Europe is becoming increasingly important. Model simulations can help to understand the reactions and feedbacks of a changing environment on tree growth. In order to simulate forest growth based on future climate change scenarios, we tested the basic processes underlying the growth model BALANCE, simulating stand climate (air temperature, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and precipitation), tree phenology, and photosynthesis. A mixed stand of 53- to 60-year-old Norway spruce (Picea abies) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica) in Southern Germany was used as a reference. The results show that BALANCE is able to realistically simulate air temperature gradients in a forest stand using air temperature measurements above the canopy and PAR regimes at different heights for single trees inside the canopy. Interception as a central variable for water balance of a forest stand was also estimated. Tree phenology, i.e. bud burst and leaf coloring, could be reproduced convincingly. Simulated photosynthesis rates were in accordance with measured values for beech both in the sun and the shade crown. For spruce, however, some discrepancies in the rates were obvious, probably due to changed environmental conditions after bud break. Overall, BALANCE has shown to respond to scenario simulations of a changing environment (e.g., climate change, change of forest stand structure).


Single tree growth model Climate change Stand climate Phenology Photosynthesis 



The authors wish to thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for providing funds for the Sonderforschungsbereich SFB 607 ”Growth and Parasite Defense“ and the projects CSWH (0330546A) and ENFORCHANGE (03306434L) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The authors also thank the Bavarian State Institute of Forestry and the German Weather Service (DWD) in Freising for providing meteorological and phenological data and the staff of the SFB 607 for making observations and measurements of the ‘Kranzberger Forst’ available. We are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for giving helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Rötzer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael Leuchner
    • 2
  • Angela J. Nunn
    • 3
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für WaldwachstumskundeTU MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Fachgebiet für ÖkoklimatologieTU MünchenFreisingGermany
  3. 3.Lehrstuhl für Ökophysiologie der PflanzenTU MünchenFreisingGermany

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