Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM)


The Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM version 4) is a process-based ecosystem model (Raich et al., 1989; McGuire et al. 1992, 1993, 1996a, 1996b; Melillo et al., 1993, 1995 ) that describes carbon and nitrogen dynamics of plant and soils for non-wetland ecosystems of the globe. The TEM uses spatially referenced information on climate, elevation, soils, vegetation and water availability as well as soil- and vegetation-specific parameters to make monthly estimates of important carbon and nitrogen fluxes and pool sizes. Hydrological inputs for TEM are determined by a water balance model (Vorosmarty et al. 1989) that use the same climatic data and soil-specific parameters as used in TEM. The TEM operates on a monthly time step and at a 0.5 degrees latitude/longitude spatial resolution.

In TEM, annual primary production (NPP) is the difference between carbon captured from the atmosphere as gross primary production (GPP) and carbon respired to the atmosphere by the vegetation. Gross primary production is calculated as a function of light availability, air temperature, atmospheric CO2 concentration, moisture availability and nitrogen supply. The nitrogen uptake in the model is controlled by the stoichiometric C:N ratio of biomass production. The carbon-nitrogen status of the vegetation cause the model to allocate more effort towards either carbon or nitrogen uptake. Plant respiration is a function of vegetation carbon(i.e. biomass) and air temperature. In TEM, decomposition is a function of the one soil organic carbon compartment, temperature and soil moisture. The carbon and nitrogen pool sizes of vegetation and soil are affected by dynamic carbon and nitrogen fluxes (NPP, litterfall C, decomposition, litterfall N, net N mineralization, N uptake, etc.). Elevated CO2 may have either a direct or indirect effect on GPP. A direct consequence of elevated atmospheric CO2 is to increase GPP via a Michaelis -Menton (hyperbolic) relationship. Elevated CO2 may indirectly affect GPP by altering the carbon-nitrogen status of the vegetation to increase effort towards nitrogen uptake.

For simulating mature ecosystems at "equilibrium" as required by the VEMAP activity (VEMAP Members, 1995), TEM assumes equilibrium conditions are reached when: 1) annual fluxes of NPP, litterfall carbon, and decomposition are balanced; 2) the annual fluxes of net nitrogen mineralization, litterfall nitrogen, and nitrogen uptake by vegetation are balanced; and 3) nitrogen inputs are equal to nitrogen losses from the ecosystem.


McGuire AD, Melillo, JM, Joyce LA, Kicklighter DW, Grace AL, Moore III B, Vorosmarty CJ (1992)
Interactions between carbon and nitrogen dynamics in estimating net primary productivity for potential vegetation in North America. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 6:101-124.

McGuire AD, Joyce LA, Kicklighter DW, Melillo JM, Esser G, Vorosmarty, CJ (1993)
Productivity response of climax temperate forests to elevated temperature and carbon dioxide: a North American comparison between two global models. Climate Change. 24:287-310.

McGuire AD, Melillo JM, Kicklighter DW, Joyce LA (1996a)
Equilibrium responses of soil carbon to climate change: Empirical and process-based estimates. J. Biogeography. In press.

McGuire AD, Kicklighter DW, Melillo JM (1996b)
Global climate change and carbon cycling in grasslands and conifer forests. In Global Change: Effect on Coniferous Forests and Grasslands (eds Melillo JM, Breymeyer AI), SCOPE volume chapter. In press.

Melillo JM, McGuire AD, Kicklighter DW, Moore III B, Vorosmarty CJ, Schloss AL (1993)
Global climate change and terrestrial net primary production. Nature. 363:234-240.

Melillo JM, Kicklighter DW, McGuire AD, Peterjohn WT, Newkirk KM (1995)
Global change and its effects on soil organic carbon stocks. In: Role of Nonliving Organic Matter in the Earth's Carbon Cycle (eds Zepp RG, Sonntag Ch), pp.175-189. John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Raich JW, Rastetter EB, Melillo JM et al. (1991)
Potential net primary productivity in south America: Application of a global model. Ecological Application. 4:399-429.

VEMAP Members (1995)
Vegetation/ecosystem modeling and analysis project: Comparing biogeography and biogeochemistry models in a continental-scale study of terrestrial ecosystem responses to climate change and CO2 doubling. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 4:407-437.

Vorosmarty CJ, Moore III B, Grace AL et al. (1989)
Continental scale model of water balance and fluvial transport: an application to south America. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 3:241-265.

TEM Contacts:

Dave Kicklighterdkick@lupine.mbl.edu
Dave McGuireffadm@aurora.alaska.edu
Jerry Melillo jmelillo@lupine.mbl.edu
Yude Pan yudepan@lupine.mbl.edu
Hanqin Tian htian@lupine.mbl.edu

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