Abstracts on Global Climate Change
       

Apr 2005

Multi-scale observation and cross-scale mechanistic modeling on terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycle

Cao, MK Yu, GR Liu, JY Li, KR

SCIENCE IN CHINA SERIES D-EARTH SCIENCES 48: Suppl. 1 17-32

To predict global climate change and to implement the Kyoto Protocol for stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gases concentrations require quantifying spatio-temporal variations in the terrestrial carbon sink accurately. During the past decade multi-scale ecological experiment and observation networks have been established using various new technologies (e.g. controlled environmental facilities, eddy covariance techniques and quantitative remote sensing), and have obtained a large amount of data about terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycle. However, uncertainties in the magnitude and spatio-temporal variations of the terrestrial carbon sink and in understanding the underlying mechanisms have not been reduced significantly. One of the major reasons is that the observations and experiments were conducted at individual scales independently, but it is the interactions of factors and processes at different scales that determine the dynamics of the terrestrial carbon sink. Since experiments and observations are always conducted at specific scales, to understand cross-scale interactions requires mechanistic analysis that is best to be achieved by mechanistic modeling. However, mechanistic ecosystem models are mainly based on data from single-scale experiments and observations and hence have no capacity to simulate mechanistic cross-scale interconnection and interactions of ecosystem processes. New-generation mechanistic ecosystem models based on new ecological theoretical framework are needed to quantify the mechanisms from micro-level fast eco-physiological responses to macro-level slow acclimation in the pattern and structure in disturbed ecosystems. Multi-scale data-model fusion is a recently emerging approach to assimilate multi-scale observational data into mechanistic, dynamic modeling, in which the structure and parameters of mechanistic models for simulating cross-scale interactions are optimized using multi-scale observational data. The models are validated and evaluated at different spatial and temporal scales and real-time observational data are assimilated continuously into dynamic modeling for predicting and forecasting ecosystem changes realistically. In summary, a breakthrough in terrestrial carbon sink research requires using approaches of multi-scale observations and cross-scale modeling to understand and quantify interconnections and interactions among ecosystem processes at different scales and their controls over ecosystem carbon cycle.

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