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Satellite Chlorophyll Fluorescence and Soil Moisture Observations Lead to Advances in the Predictive Understanding of Global Terrestrial Coupled Carbon-Water Cycles

  • Author(s): Qiu, B
  • Xue, Y
  • Fisher, JB
  • Guo, W
  • Berry, JA
  • Zhang, Y
  • et al.

The terrestrial carbon and water cycles are coupled through a multitude of connected processes among soil, roots, leaves, and the atmosphere. The strength and sensitivity of these couplings are not yet well known at the global scale, which contributes to uncertainty in predicting the terrestrial water and carbon budgets. We now have synchronous, global-scale satellite observations of critical terrestrial carbon and water cycle components: solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) and soil moisture. We used these observations within the framework of a global terrestrial biosphere model (Simplified Simple Biosphere Model version 2.0, SSiB2) to investigate carbon-water coupling processes. We updated SSiB2 to include a mechanistic representation of SIF and tested the sensitivity of model parameters to improve the simulation of both SIF and soil moisture with the ultimate objective of improving the first-order terrestrial carbon component, gross primary production. Although several vegetation parameters, such as leaf area index and the green leaf fraction, improved the simulated SIF, and several soil parameters, such as hydraulic conductivity, improved simulated soil moisture, their effects were mainly limited to their respective cycles. One root-mean-square error parameter emerged as the key coupler between the carbon and water cycles: the wilting point. Updates to the wilting point significantly improved the simulations for SIF and gross primary production although substantial mismatches with the satellite data still existed. This study demonstrates the value of synchronous global measurements of the terrestrial carbon and water cycles in improving the understanding of coupled carbon-water cycles.

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