On the direct effect of clouds and atmospheric particles on the productivity and structure of vegetation
The volume of shade within vegetation canopies is reduced by more than an order of magnitude on cloudy and/or very hazy days compared to clear sunny days because of an increase in the diffuse fraction of the solar radiance. Here we show that vegetation is directly sensitive to changes in the diffuse fraction and we conclude that the productivity and structure of vegetation is strongly influenced by clouds and other atmospheric particles. We also propose that the unexpected decline in atmospheric [CO2] which was observed following the Mt. Pinatubo eruption was in part caused by increased vegetation uptake following an anomalous enhancement of the diffuse fraction by volcanic aerosols that would have reduced the volume of shade within vegetation canopies. These results have important implications for both understanding and modelling the productivity and structure of terrestrial vegetation as well as the global carbon cycle and the climate system.
KeywordsGlobal carbon cycle Diffuse radiation Global change Light use efficiency Mt. Pinatubo
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