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A model analysis of climate and CO2 controls on tree growth in a semi-arid woodland

Li, G., Harrison, S. and Prentice, I. C. (2015) A model analysis of climate and CO2 controls on tree growth in a semi-arid woodland. Biogeosciences Discussions, 12 (6). pp. 4769-4800. ISSN 1810-6285

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/bgd-12-4769-2015


We used a light-use efficiency model of photosynthesis coupled with a dynamic carbon allocation and tree-growth model to simulate annual growth of the gymnosperm Callitris columellaris in the semi-arid Great Western Woodlands, Western Australia, over the past 100 years. Parameter values were derived from independent observations except for sapwood specific respiration rate, fine-root turnover time, fine-root specific respiration rate and the ratio of fine-root mass to foliage area, which were estimated by Bayesian optimization. The model reproduced the general pattern of interannual variability in radial growth (tree-ring width), including the response to the shift in precipitation regimes that occurred in the 1960s. Simulated and observed responses to climate were consistent. Both showed a significant positive response of tree-ring width to total photosynthetically active radiation received and to the ratio of modeled actual to equilibrium evapotranspiration, and a significant negative response to vapour pressure deficit. However, the simulations showed an enhancement of radial growth in response to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration (ppm) ([CO2]) during recent decades that is not present in the observations. The discrepancy disappeared when the model was recalibrated on successive 30-year windows. Then the ratio of fine-root mass to foliage area increases by 14% (from 0.127 to 0.144 kg C m-2) as [CO2] increased while the other three estimated parameters remained constant. The absence of a signal of increasing [CO2] has been noted in many tree-ring records, despite the enhancement of photosynthetic rates and water-use efficiency resulting from increasing [CO2]. Our simulations suggest that this behaviour could be explained as a consequence of a shift towards below-ground carbon allocation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Past Climate Change
ID Code:40024
Publisher:Copernicus GmbH


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