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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 12, issue 1
Geosci. Model Dev., 12, 179-193, 2019
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-12-179-2019
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Special issue: Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES) – configurations,...

Geosci. Model Dev., 12, 179-193, 2019
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-12-179-2019
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Development and technical paper 09 Jan 2019

Development and technical paper | 09 Jan 2019

Representation of fire, land-use change and vegetation dynamics in the Joint UK Land Environment Simulator vn4.9 (JULES)

Chantelle Burton1,2, Richard Betts1,2, Manoel Cardoso3, Ted R. Feldpausch2, Anna Harper2, Chris D. Jones1, Douglas I. Kelley4, Eddy Robertson1, and Andy Wiltshire1 Chantelle Burton et al.
  • 1Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
  • 2College of Life and Environmental Science, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4SB, UK
  • 3Brazilian Institute for Space Research (INPE), Earth System Science Center (CCST), São José dos Campos, Brazil
  • 4Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK

Abstract. Disturbance of vegetation is a critical component of land cover, but is generally poorly constrained in land surface and carbon cycle models. In particular, land-use change and fire can be treated as large-scale disturbances without full representation of their underlying complexities and interactions. Here we describe developments to the land surface model JULES (Joint UK Land Environment Simulator) to represent land-use change and fire as distinct processes which interact with simulated vegetation dynamics. We couple the fire model INFERNO (INteractive Fire and Emission algoRithm for Natural envirOnments) to dynamic vegetation within JULES and use the HYDE (History Database of the Global Environment) land cover dataset to analyse the impact of land-use change on the simulation of present day vegetation. We evaluate the inclusion of land use and fire disturbance against standard benchmarks. Using the Manhattan metric, results show improved simulation of vegetation cover across all observed datasets. Overall, disturbance improves the simulation of vegetation cover by 35% compared to vegetation continuous field (VCF) observations from MODIS and 13% compared to the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) from the ESA. Biases in grass extent are reduced from −66% to 13%. Total woody cover improves by 55% compared to VCF and 20% compared to CCI from a reduction in forest extent in the tropics, although simulated tree cover is now too sparse in some areas. Explicitly modelling fire and land use generally decreases tree and shrub cover and increases grasses. The results show that the disturbances provide important contributions to the realistic modelling of vegetation on a global scale, although in some areas fire and land use together result in too much disturbance. This work provides a substantial contribution towards representing the full complexity and interactions between land-use change and fire that could be used in Earth system models.

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Fire and land-use change are important disturbances within the Earth system, and their inclusion in models is critical to enable the correct simulation of vegetation cover. Here we describe developments to the land surface model JULES to represent explicit land-use change and fire and to assess the effects of each process on present day vegetation compared to observations. Using historical land-use data and the fire model INFERNO, overall model results are improved by the developments.
Fire and land-use change are important disturbances within the Earth system, and their inclusion...
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