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Estimating potential forest NPP, biomass and their climatic sensitivity in New England using a dynamic ecosystem model

  • Guoping Tang
  • Brian Beckage
  • Benjamin Smith
  • Paul Miller
Publishing year: 2010
Language: English
Pages: 1-20
Publication/Series: Ecosphere
Volume: 1
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Ecological Society of America
Additional info: Ogiltigt ISSN-nummer 2150-8925

Abstract english

Abstract in Undetermined

Accurate estimation of forest net primary productivity (NPP), biomass, and their sensitivity to changes in temperature and precipitation is important for understanding the fluxes and pools of terrestrial carbon resulting from anthropogenically driven climate change. The objectives of this study were to (1) estimate potential forest NPP and biomass for New England using a regional ecosystem model, (2) compare modeled forest NPP and biomass with other reported data for New England, and (3) examine the sensitivity of modeled forest NPP to historical climatic variation. We addressed these objectives using the regional ecosystem model LPJ-GUESS implemented with eight plant functional types representing New England forests. We ran the model using 30-arc second spatial resolution climate data in monthly time-steps for the period 1901-2006. The modeled forest NPP and biomass were compared to empirically-based MODIS and FIA estimates of NPP and U.S. forest biomass. Our results indicate that forest NPP in New England averages 428 g C.m(-2).yr(-1) and ranges from 333 to 541 g C.m(-2).yr(-1) for the baseline period (1971-2000), while forest biomass averages 135 Mg/ha and ranges from 77 to 242 Mg/ha. Modeled forest biomass decreased at a rate of 0.11 Mg/ha (R-2 = 0.74) per year in the period 1901-1949 but increased at a rate of 0.25 Mg/ha (R-2 = 0.95) per year in the period 1950-2006. Estimates of NPP and biomass depend on forest type: spruce-fir had the lowest mean of 395 g C.m(-2).yr(-1) and oak forest had the highest mean of 468 g C.m(-2).yr(-1). Similarly, forest biomass was highest in oak (153 Mg/ha) and lowest in red-jack pine (118 Mg/ha) forests. The modeled NPP for New England agrees well with FIA-based estimates from similar forests in the mid-Atlantic region but was smaller than MODIS NPP estimates for New England. Nevertheless, the modeled inter-annual variability of NPP was strongly correlated with the MODIS NPP data. The modeled biomass agrees well with U.S. forest biomass data for New England but was less than FIA-based estimates in the mid-Atlantic region. For the region as a whole, the modeled NPP and biomass are within the ranges of MODIS-and FIA-based estimates. Forest NPP was sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation: NPP was positively related to temperatures in April, May and October but negatively related to summer temperature. Increases in precipitation in the growing season enhanced forest NPP.


  • Physical Geography
  • biomass
  • climatic sensitivity
  • forest inventory data
  • inter-comparison
  • net primary productivity
  • New England


  • ISSN: 2150-8925
E-mail: paul [dot] miller [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se

Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Lund University
Sölvegatan 12
S-223 62 Lund

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