Representation of fire, land-use change and vegetation dynamics in the Joint UK Land Environment Simulator vn4.9 (JULES)

Burton, Chantelle; Betts, Richard; Cardoso, Manoel; Feldpausch, Ted R.; Harper, Anna; Jones, Chris D.; Kelley, Douglas I.; Robertson, Eddy; Wiltshire, Andy

Disturbance of vegetation is a critical component of land cover, but is generally poorly constrained in land surface and carbon cycle models. In particular, land-use change and fire can be treated as large-scale disturbances without full representation of their underlying complexities and interactions. Here we describe developments to the land surface model JULES (Joint UK Land Environment Simulator) to represent land-use change and fire as distinct processes which interact with simulated vegetation dynamics. We couple the fire model INFERNO (INteractive Fire and Emission algoRithm for Natural envirOnments) to dynamic vegetation within JULES and use the HYDE (History Database of the Global Environment) land cover dataset to analyse the impact of land-use change on the simulation of present day vegetation. We evaluate the inclusion of land use and fire disturbance against standard benchmarks. Using the Manhattan metric, results show improved simulation of vegetation cover across all observed datasets. Overall, disturbance improves the simulation of vegetation cover by 35 % compared to vegetation continuous field (VCF) observations from MODIS and 13 % compared to the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) from the ESA. Biases in grass extent are reduced from inline-formula−66 % to 13 %. Total woody cover improves by 55 % compared to VCF and 20 % compared to CCI from a reduction in forest extent in the tropics, although simulated tree cover is now too sparse in some areas. Explicitly modelling fire and land use generally decreases tree and shrub cover and increases grasses. The results show that the disturbances provide important contributions to the realistic modelling of vegetation on a global scale, although in some areas fire and land use together result in too much disturbance. This work provides a substantial contribution towards representing the full complexity and interactions between land-use change and fire that could be used in Earth system models.

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Burton, Chantelle / Betts, Richard / Cardoso, Manoel / et al: Representation of fire, land-use change and vegetation dynamics in the Joint UK Land Environment Simulator vn4.9 (JULES). 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Chantelle Burton et al.

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