Journal cover Journal topic
Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Geosci. Model Dev., 11, 429-451, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-11-429-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Model description paper
01 Feb 2018
Modeling vegetation and carbon dynamics of managed grasslands at the global scale with LPJmL 3.6
Susanne Rolinski1, Christoph Müller1, Jens Heinke1, Isabelle Weindl1,2,3, Anne Biewald1, Benjamin Leon Bodirsky1, Alberte Bondeau4, Eltje R. Boons-Prins5, Alexander F. Bouwman6, Peter A. Leffelaar5, Johnny A. te Roller7, Sibyll Schaphoff1, and Kirsten Thonicke1 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Member of the Leibniz Association, P.O. Box 60 12 03, 14412 Potsdam, Germany
2Humboldt University of Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany
3Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy, Max-Eyth-Allee 100, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
4Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d'Ecologie marine et continentale (IMBE), Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Avignon Université, 13545 Aix-en-Provence CEDEX 04, France
5Wageningen University and Research, Plant Production Systems, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
6Department of Earth Sciences – Geochemistry, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80021, 3508 TA Utrecht, the Netherlands
7Alterra, Wageningen Environmental Research, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
Abstract. Grassland management affects the carbon fluxes of one-third of the global land area and is thus an important factor for the global carbon budget. Nonetheless, this aspect has been largely neglected or underrepresented in global carbon cycle models. We investigate four harvesting schemes for the managed grassland implementation of the dynamic global vegetation model (DGVM) Lund–Potsdam–Jena managed Land (LPJmL) that facilitate a better representation of actual management systems globally. We describe the model implementation and analyze simulation results with respect to harvest, net primary productivity and soil carbon content and by evaluating them against reported grass yields in Europe. We demonstrate the importance of accounting for differences in grassland management by assessing potential livestock grazing densities as well as the impacts of grazing, grazing intensities and mowing systems on soil carbon stocks. Grazing leads to soil carbon losses in polar or arid regions even at moderate livestock densities (<  0.4 livestock units per hectare – LSU ha−1) but not in temperate regions even at much higher densities (0.4 to 1.2 LSU ha−1). Applying LPJmL with the new grassland management options enables assessments of the global grassland production and its impact on the terrestrial biogeochemical cycles but requires a global data set on current grassland management.

Citation: Rolinski, S., Müller, C., Heinke, J., Weindl, I., Biewald, A., Bodirsky, B. L., Bondeau, A., Boons-Prins, E. R., Bouwman, A. F., Leffelaar, P. A., te Roller, J. A., Schaphoff, S., and Thonicke, K.: Modeling vegetation and carbon dynamics of managed grasslands at the global scale with LPJmL 3.6, Geosci. Model Dev., 11, 429-451, https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-11-429-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
One-third of the global land area is covered with grasslands which are grazed by or mowed for livestock feed. These areas contribute significantly to the carbon capture from the atmosphere when managed sensibly. To assess the effect of this management, we included different options of grazing and mowing into the global model LPJmL 3.6. We found in polar regions even low grazing pressure leads to soil carbon loss whereas in temperate regions up to 1.4 livestock units per hectare can be sustained.
One-third of the global land area is covered with grasslands which are grazed by or mowed for...
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