Drought Influences the Accuracy of Simulated Ecosystem Fluxes: A Model-Data Meta-analysis for Mediterranean Oak Woodlands
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- Vargas, R., Sonnentag, O., Abramowitz, G. et al. Ecosystems (2013) 16: 749. doi:10.1007/s10021-013-9648-1
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Water availability is the dominant control of global terrestrial primary productivity with concurrent effects on evapotranspiration and ecosystem respiration, especially in water-limited ecosystems. Process-oriented ecosystem models are critical tools for understanding land–atmosphere exchanges and for up-scaling this information to regional and global scales. Thus, it is important to understand how ecosystem models simulate ecosystem fluxes under changing weather conditions. Here, we applied both time-series analysis and meta-analysis techniques to study how five ecosystem process-oriented models-simulated gross primary production (GPP), ecosystem respiration (Reco), and evapotranspiration (ET). Ecosystem fluxes were simulated for 3 years at a daily time step from four evergreen and three deciduous Mediterranean oak woodlands (21 site-year measurements; 105 site-year-simulations). Mediterranean ecosystems are important test-beds for studying the interannual dynamics of soil moisture on ecosystem mass and energy exchange as they experience cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers and are typically subject to drought. Results show data-model disagreements at multiple temporal scales for GPP, Reco, and ET at both plant functional types. Overall there was a systematic underestimation of the temporal variation of Reco at both plant functional types at temporal scales between weeks and months, and an overestimation at the yearly scale. Modeled Reco was systematically overestimated during drought for all sites, but daily GPP was systematically underestimated only for deciduous sites during drought. In contrast, daily estimates of ET showed good data-model agreement even during drought conditions. This meta-analysis brings attention to the importance of drought conditions for modeling purposes in representing forest dynamics in water-limited ecosystems.