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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Apr 2018

Research article | 06 Apr 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Harmonizing plant functional type distributions for evaluating Earth System Models

Anne Dallmeyer1, Martin Claussen1,2, and Victor Brovkin1 Anne Dallmeyer et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 2Meteorological Institute, Centrum für Erdsystemforschung und Nachhaltigkeit (CEN), Universität Hamburg, Bundesstrasse 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. Dynamic vegetation models simulate global vegetation in terms of fractional coverages of a few plant functional types (PFTs). Although these models often share the same concept, they differ with respect to the number and kind of PFTs, complicating the comparability of simulated vegetation distributions. Pollen-based reconstructions are initially only available in form of time-series of individual taxa that are not distinguished in the models. Thus, to evaluate simulated vegetation distributions, the modelling results and pollen-based reconstructions have to be converted into a comparable format. The classical approach is the method of biomisation, but hitherto, PFT-based biomisation methods were only available for individual models. We introduce and evaluate a simple, universally applicable technique to harmonize PFT-distributions by assigning them into nine mega-biomes that follow the definitions commonly used for vegetation reconstructions. The method works well for all state-of the art dynamic vegetation models, independent of the spatial resolution or the complexity of the models. Large biome belts (such as tropical forest) are well represented, but regionally confined biomes (warm-mixed forest, Savanna) are only partly captured. Overall, the PFT-based biomisation is able to keep up with the conventional biomisation approach of forcing biome models (here: BIOME1) with the background climate states. The new method has, however, the advantage that it allows a more direct comparison and evaluation of the vegetation distributions simulated by Earth System Models. Thereby, the new method provides a powerful tool for the evaluation of Earth System Models in general.

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Anne Dallmeyer et al.
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Anne Dallmeyer et al.
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Short summary
A simple but powerful method for the biomisation of plant functional type distributions is introduced and tested for nearly all state-of-the art dynamic global vegetation models based on pre-industrial and palaeo-simulations. The method facilitates the direct comparison between vegetation distributions simulated by different Earth System Models and between model results and the pollen-based biome reconstructions. It is therefore a powerful tool for the evaluation of Earth System Models.
A simple but powerful method for the biomisation of plant functional type distributions is...