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Global net primary production: Combining ecology and remote sensing

  • Author(s): Field, CB
  • Randerson, JT
  • Malmström, CM
  • et al.

Terrestrial net primary production (NPP) is sensitive to a number of controls, including aspects of climate, topography, soils, plant and microbial characteristics, disturbance, and anthropogenic impacts. Yet, at least at the global scale, models based on very different types and numbers of parameters yield similar results. Part of the reason for this is that the major NPP controls influence each other, resulting, under current conditions, in broad correlations among controls. NPP models that include richer suites of controlling parameters should be more sensitive to conditions that disrupt the broad correlations, but the current paucity of global data limits the power of complex models. Improved data sets will facilitate applications of complex models, but many of the critical data are very difficult to produce, especially for applications dealing with the past or future. It may be possible to overcome some of the challenges of data availability through increased understanding and modeling of ecological processes that adjust plant physiology and architecture in relation to resources. The CASA (Carnegie, Stanford, Ames Approach) model introduced by Potter et al. (1993) and expanded here uses a combination of ecological principles, satellite data, and surface data to predict terrestrial NPP on a monthly time step. CASA calculates NPP as a product of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, APAR, and an efficiency of radiation use, ε{lunate}. The underlying postulate is that some of the limitations on NPP appear in each. CASA estimates annual terrestrial NPP to be 48 Pg and the maximum efficiency of PAR utilization (ε{lunate}*) to be 0.39 g C MJ PAR. Spatial and temporal variation in APAR is more than fivefold greater than variation in ε{lunate}. © 1995. -1

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