A stand-alone tree demography and landscape structure module for Earth system models: integration with inventory data from temperate and boreal forests
Poorly constrained rates of biomass turnover are a key limitation of Earth system models (ESMs). In light of this, we recently proposed a new approach encoded in a model called Populations-Order-Physiology (POP), for the simulation of woody ecosystem stand dynamics, demography and disturbance-mediated heterogeneity. POP is suitable for continental to global applications and designed for coupling to the terrestrial ecosystem component of any ESM. POP bridges the gap between first-generation dynamic vegetation models (DVMs) with simple large-area parameterisations of woody biomass (typically used in current ESMs) and complex second-generation DVMs that explicitly simulate demographic processes and landscape heterogeneity of forests. The key simplification in the POP approach, compared with second-generation DVMs, is to compute physiological processes such as assimilation at grid-scale (with CABLE (Community Atmosphere Biosphere Land Exchange) or a similar land surface model), but to partition the grid-scale biomass increment among age classes defined at sub-grid-scale, each subject to its own dynamics. POP was successfully demonstrated along a savanna transect in northern Australia, replicating the effects of strong rainfall and fire disturbance gradients on observed stand productivity and structure.
Here, we extend the application of POP to wide-ranging temporal and boreal forests, employing paired observations of stem biomass and density from forest inventory data to calibrate model parameters governing stand demography and biomass evolution. The calibrated POP model is then coupled to the CABLE land surface model, and the combined model (CABLE-POP) is evaluated against leaf–stem allometry observations from forest stands ranging in age from 3 to 200 year. Results indicate that simulated biomass pools conform well with observed allometry. We conclude that POP represents an ecologically plausible and efficient alternative to large-area parameterisations of woody biomass turnover, typically used in current ESMs.