Ecosystem functioning is enveloped by hydrometeorological variability

C. Pappas, M.D. Mahecha, D.C. Frank, F. Babst, and D. Koutsoyiannis, Ecosystem functioning is enveloped by hydrometeorological variability, Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1, 1263–1270, doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0277-5, 2017.



Terrestrial ecosystem processes, and the associated vegetation carbon dynamics, respond differently to hydrometeorological variability across timescales, and so does our scientific understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Long-term variability of the terrestrial carbon cycle is not yet well constrained and the resulting climate–biosphere feedbacks are highly uncertain. Here we present a comprehensive overview of hydrometeorological and ecosystem variability from hourly to decadal timescales integrating multiple in situ and remote-sensing datasets characterizing extra-tropical forest sites. We find that ecosystem variability at all sites is confined within a hydrometeorological envelope across sites and timescales. Furthermore, ecosystem variability demonstrates long-term persistence, highlighting ecological memory and slow ecosystem recovery rates after disturbances. However, simulation results with state-of-the-art process-based models do not reflect this long-term persistent behaviour in ecosystem functioning. Accordingly, we develop a cross-time-scale stochastic framework that captures hydrometeorological and ecosystem variability. Our analysis offers a perspective for terrestrial ecosystem modelling and paves the way for new model–data integration opportunities in Earth system sciences.

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Our works referenced by this work:

1. P. Dimitriadis, and D. Koutsoyiannis, Climacogram versus autocovariance and power spectrum in stochastic modelling for Markovian and Hurst–Kolmogorov processes, Stochastic Environmental Research & Risk Assessment, 29 (6), 1649–1669, doi:10.1007/s00477-015-1023-7, 2015.
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