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Marko Scholze

Senior lecturer

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Soil Moisture Assimilation Improves Terrestrial Biosphere Model GPP Responses to Sub-Annual Drought at Continental Scale


  • Xiuli Xing
  • Mousong Wu
  • Marko Scholze
  • Thomas Kaminski
  • Michael Vossbeck
  • Zhengyao Lu
  • Songhan Wang
  • Wei He
  • Weimin Ju
  • Fei Jiang

Summary, in English

Due to the substantial gross exchange fluxes with the atmosphere, the terrestrial carbon cycle plays a significant role in the global carbon budget. Drought commonly affects terrestrial carbon absorption negatively. Terrestrial biosphere models exhibit significant uncertainties in capturing the carbon flux response to drought, which have an impact on estimates of the global carbon budget. Through plant physiological processes, soil moisture tightly regulates the carbon cycle in the environment. Therefore, accurate observations of soil moisture may enhance the modeling of carbon fluxes in a model–data fusion framework. We employ the Carbon Cycle Data Assimilation System (CCDAS) to assimilate 36-year satellite-derived surface soil moisture observations in combination with flask samples of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We find that, compared to the default model, the performance of optimized net ecosystem productivity (NEP) and gross primary productivity (GPP) has increased with the RMSEs reduced by 1.62 gC/m2/month and 10.84 gC/m2/month, which indicates the added value of the ESA-CCI soil moisture observations as a constraint on the terrestrial carbon cycle. Additionally, the combination of soil moisture and CO2 concentration in this study improves the representation of inter-annual variability of terrestrial carbon fluxes as well as the atmospheric CO2 growth rate. We thereby investigate the ability of the optimized GPP in responding to drought by comparing continentally aggregated GPP with the drought index. The assimilation of surface soil moisture has been shown to efficiently capture the influences of the sub-annual (≤9 months drought durations) and large-scale (e.g., regional to continental scales) droughts on GPP. This study highlights the significant potential of satellite soil moisture for constraining inter-annual models of the terrestrial biosphere’s carbon cycle and for illustrating how GPP responds to drought at a continental scale.


  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
  • eSSENCE: The e-Science Collaboration
  • MERGE: ModElling the Regional and Global Earth system
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year





Remote Sensing





Document type

Journal article




  • Physical Geography


  • carbon cycle data assimilation system
  • drought
  • ESA-CCI soil moisture
  • gross primary productivity




  • ISSN: 2072-4292