Terrestrial biogeochemical cycles: global interactions with the atmosphere and hydrology

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SCHIMEL, DAVID S. ; KITTEL, TIMOTHY G. F. ; PARTON, WILLIAM J. (2011)

Ecosystem scientists have developed a body of theory to predict the behavior of biogeochemical cycles when exchanges with other ecosystems are small or prescribed. Recent environmental changes make it clear that linkages between ecosystems via atmospheric and hydrological transport have large effects on ecosystem dynamics when considered over time periods of a decade to a century, time scales relevant to contemporary humankind. Our ability to predict behavior of ecosystems coupled by transport is limited by our ability (1) to extrapolate biotic function to large spatial scales and (2) to measure and model transport. We review developments in ecosystem theory, remote sensing, and geographical information systems (GIS) that support new efforts in spatial modeling. A paradigm has emerged to predict behavior of ecosystems based on understanding responses to multiple resources (e.g., water, nutrients, light). Several ecosystem models couple primary production to decomposition and nutrient availability using the above paradigm. These models require a fairly small set of environmental variables to simulate spatial and temporal variation in rates of biogeochemical cycling. Simultaneously, techniques for inferring ecosystem behavior from remotely measured canopy light interception are improving our ability to infer plant activity from satellite observations. Efforts have begun to couple models of transport in air and water to models of ecosystem function. Preliminary work indicates that coupling of transport and ecosystem processes alters the behavior of earth system components (hydrology, terrestrial ecosystems, and the atmosphere) from that of an uncoupled mode.DOI: 10.1034/j.1600-0889.1991.t01-1-00017.x
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