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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: model evaluation paper 05 Aug 2019

Submitted as: model evaluation paper | 05 Aug 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Geoscientific Model Development (GMD).

P-model v1.0: An optimality-based light use efficiency model for simulating ecosystem gross primary production

Benjamin D. Stocker1,2, Han Wang3, Nicholas G. Smith4, Sandy P. Harrison5, Trevor F. Keenan6,7, David Sandoval8, Tyler Davis8,9, and I. Colin Prentice8 Benjamin D. Stocker et al.
  • 1CREAF, Campus UAB, 08193 Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain
  • 2Earth System Science, Stanford University, Stanford, 94305-4216, California, USA
  • 3Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Haidian, Beijing, 100084, China
  • 4Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Box 43131 Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
  • 5Geography and Environmental Science, Reading University, Reading, RG6 6 AH, UK
  • 6Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA
  • 7Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  • 8AXA Chair of Biosphere and Climate Impacts, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood ParkCampus, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7PY, UK
  • 9Center for Geospatial Analysis, The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, USA

Abstract. Terrestrial photosynthesis is the basis for vegetation growth and drives the land carbon cycle. Accurately simulating gross primary production (GPP, ecosystem-level apparent photosynthesis) is key for satellite monitoring and Earth System Model predictions under climate change. While robust models exist for describing leaf-level photosynthesis, predictions diverge due to uncertain photosynthetic traits and parameters which vary on multiple spatial and temporal scales. Here, we describe and evaluate a gross primary production (GPP, photosynthesis per unit ground area) model, the P-model, that combines the Farquhar-von Caemmerer-Berry model for C3 photosynthesis with an optimality principle for the carbon assimilation-transpiration trade-off, and predicts a multi-day average light use efficiency (LUE) for any climate and C3 vegetation type. The model is forced here with satellite data for the fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation and site-specific meteorological data and is evaluated against GPP estimates from a globally distributed network of ecosystem flux measurements. Although the P-model requires relatively few inputs and prescribed parameters, the R2 for predicted versus observed GPP based on the full model setup is 0.75 (8-day mean, 131 sites) – better than some state-of-the-art satellite data-driven light use efficiency models. The R2 is reduced to 0.69 when not accounting for the reduction in quantum yield at low temperatures and effects of low soil moisture on LUE. The R2 for the P-model-predicted LUE is 0.37 (means by site) and 0.53 (means by vegetation type). The P-model provides a simple but powerful method for predicting – rather than prescribing – light use efficiency and simulating terrestrial photosythesis across a wide range of conditions. The model is available as an R package (rpmodel).

Benjamin D. Stocker et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Benjamin D. Stocker et al.
Data sets

GPP at FLUXNET Tier 1 sites from P-model B. D. Stocker

Model code and software

rpmodel v1.0.1 B. D. Stocker

Benjamin D. Stocker et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Estimating terrestrial photosynthesis relies on satellite data of vegetation cover and models simulating the efficiency by which light absorbed by vegetation is used for CO2 assimilation. This paper presents the P-model, a light use efficiency model derived from first principles, and evaluates its predictions of ecosystem-level photosynthesis against globally distributed observations. The model is implemented and openly accessible as an R package (rpmodel).
Estimating terrestrial photosynthesis relies on satellite data of vegetation cover and models...