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Title: A Comparison of Land Surface Phenology in the Northern Hemisphere Derived from Satellite Remote Sensing and the Community Land Model

Large-scale changes in the state of the land surface affect the circulation of the atmosphere and the structure and function of ecosystems alike. As global temperatures increase and regional climates change, the timing of key plant phenophase changes are likely to shift as well. Here we evaluate a suite of phenometrics designed to facilitate an “apples to apples” comparison between remote sensing products and climate model output. Specifically, we derive day-of-year (DOY) thresholds of leaf area index (LAI) from both remote sensing and the Community Land Model (CLM) over the Northern Hemisphere. This systematic approach to comparing phenologically relevant variables reveals appreciable differences in both LAI seasonal cycle and spring onset timing between model simulated phenology and satellite records. For example, phenological spring onset in the model occurs on average 30 days later than observed, especially for evergreen plant functional types. The disagreement in phenology can result in a mean bias of approximately 5% of the total estimated Northern Hemisphere NPP. Further, while the more recent version of CLM (v5.0) exhibits seasonal mean LAI values that are in closer agreement with satellite data than its predecessor (CLM4.5), LAI seasonal cycles in CLM5.0 exhibit poorer agreement. Therefore, despite broad improvements more » for a range of states and fluxes from CLM4.5 to CLM5.0, degradation of plant phenology occurs in CLM5.0. Therefore, any coupling between the land surface and the atmosphere that depends on vegetation state might not be fully captured by the existing generation of the model. We also discuss several avenues for improving the fidelity between observations and model simulations.

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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Hydrometeorology
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 859-873
American Meteorological Society
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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