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Improved representation of plant physiology in the JULES-vn5.6 land surface model: photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and thermal acclimation

Oliver, R. J., Mercado, L. M., Clark, D. B., Huntingford, C., Taylor, C. M., Vidale, P. L., McGuire, P. C. ORCID:, Todt, M., Folwell, S., Shamsudheen Semeena, V. and Medlyn, B. E. (2022) Improved representation of plant physiology in the JULES-vn5.6 land surface model: photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and thermal acclimation. Geoscientific Model Development, 15. pp. 5567-5592. ISSN 1991-9603

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/gmd-15-5567-2022


Carbon and water cycle dynamics of vegetation are controlled primarily by photosynthesis and stomatal conductance (gs). Our goal is to improve the representation of these key physiological processes within the JULES land surface model, with a particular focus on refining the temperature sensitivity of photosynthesis, impacting modelled carbon, energy and water fluxes. We test (1) an implementation of the Farquhar et al. (1980) photosynthesis scheme and associated plant functional type-dependent photosynthetic temperature response functions, (2) the optimality-based gs scheme from Medlyn et al. (2011) and (3) the Kattge and Knorr (2007) photosynthetic capacity thermal acclimation scheme. New parameters for each model configuration are adopted from recent large observational datasets that synthesise global experimental data. These developments to JULES incorporate current physiological understanding of vegetation behaviour into the model and enable users to derive direct links between model parameters and ongoing measurement campaigns that refine such parameter values. Replacement of the original Collatz et al. (1991) C3 photosynthesis model with the Farquhar scheme results in large changes in GPP for the current day, with ∼ 10 % reduction in seasonal (June–August, JJA, and December–February, DJF) mean GPP in tropical forests and ∼ 20 % increase in the northern high-latitude forests in JJA. The optimality-based gs model decreases the latent heat flux for the present day (∼ 10 %, with an associated increase in sensible heat flux) across regions dominated by needleleaf evergreen forest in the Northern Hemisphere summer. Thermal acclimation of photosynthesis coupled with the Medlyn gs scheme reduced tropical forest GPP by up to 5 % and increased GPP in the high-northern-latitude forests by between 2 % and 5 %. Evaluation of simulated carbon and water fluxes by each model configuration against global data products shows this latter configuration generates improvements in these key areas. Thermal acclimation of photosynthesis coupled with the Medlyn gs scheme improved modelled carbon fluxes in tropical and high-northern-latitude forests in JJA and improved the simulation of evapotranspiration across much of the Northern Hemisphere in JJA. Having established good model performance for the contemporary period, we force this new version of JULES offline with a future climate scenario corresponding to rising atmospheric greenhouse gases (Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP5), Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5)). In particular, these calculations allow for understanding of the effects of long-term warming. We find that the impact of thermal acclimation coupled with the optimality-based gs model on simulated fluxes increases latent heat flux (+50 %) by the year 2050 compared to the JULES model configuration without acclimation. This new JULES configuration also projects increased GPP across tropical (+10 %) and northern-latitude regions (+30 %) by 2050. We conclude that thermal acclimation of photosynthesis with the Farquhar photosynthesis scheme and the new optimality-based gs scheme together improve the simulation of carbon and water fluxes for the current day and have a large impact on modelled future carbon cycle dynamics in a warming world.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:106373
Publisher:European Geosciences Union


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