Robinson Negrón-Juárez, Charles Koven, William Riley, Ryan Knox, and Jeff Chambers, researchers in EESA and CESD, published a letter in Environmental Research Letters showing that most earth system models (ESM) overpredict tropical forest biomass in response to increased forest productivity. In contrast, observations show that as tropical forest productivity increases, trees do not continue to store CO2 at the same rate, and biomass saturates. This bias may lead to an overprediction of carbon uptake in response to climate change. Negrón-Juárez et al. explain that observations of how plants allocate the carbon derived from photosynthesis into leaves, wood and roots are useful to assess model performance. Including these allocation patterns and turnover times into ESMs will improve understanding of how quickly the climate system will warm over the coming decades.
Their paper was highlighted by Environmental Research Web this September.
Citation: Observed allocations of productivity and biomass, and turnover times in tropical forests are not accurately represented in CMIP5 Earth system models. Robinson I Negrón-Juárez, Charles D Koven, William J Riley, Ryan G Knox and Jeffrey Q Chambers. Open Access: Environmental Research Letters 10 (2015) 064017; doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/6/064017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/10/6/064017