Constraining rooting depths in tropical rainforests using satellite data and ecosystem modeling for accurate simulation of gross primary production seasonality

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Journal Article
Global Change Biology, 2007, 13 (1), pp. 67 - 77
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Accurate parameterization of rooting depth is difficult but important for capturing the spatio-temporal dynamics of carbon, water and energy cycles in tropical forests. In this study, we adopted a new approach to constrain rooting depth in terrestrial ecosystem models over the Amazon using satellite data [moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) enhanced vegetation index (EVI)] and Biome-BGC terrestrial ecosystem model. We simulated seasonal variations in gross primary production (GPP) using different rooting depths (1, 3, 5, and 10 m) at point and spatial scales to investigate how rooting depth affects modeled seasonal GPP variations and to determine which rooting depth simulates GPP consistent with satellite-based observations. First, we confirmed that rooting depth strongly controls modeled GPP seasonal variations and that only deep rooting systems can successfully track flux-based GPP seasonality at the Tapajos km67 flux site. Second, spatial analysis showed that the model can reproduce the seasonal variations in satellite-based EVI seasonality, however, with required rooting depths strongly dependent on precipitation and the dry season length. For example, a shallow rooting depth (13 m) is sufficient in regions with a short dry season (e.g. 02 months), and deeper roots are required in regions with a longer dry season (e.g. 35 and 510 m for the regions with 34 and 56 months dry season, respectively). Our analysis suggests that setting of proper rooting depths is important to simulating GPP seasonality in tropical forests, and the use of satellite data can help to constrain the spatial variability of rooting depth.
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