Divergent historical GPP trends among state-of-the-art multi-model simulations and satellite-based products

Ruqi Yang, Jun Wang, Ning Zeng, Stephen Sitch, Wenhan Tang, Matthew Joseph McGrath, Qixiang Cai, Di Liu, Danica Lombardozzi, Hanqin Tian, Atul K. Jain, Pengfei Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding historical changes in gross primary productivity (GPP) is essential for better predicting the future global carbon cycle. However, the historical trends of terrestrial GPP, due to the CO2 fertilization effect, climate, and land-use change, remain largely uncertain. Using long-term satellite-based near-infrared radiance of vegetation (NIRv), a proxy for GPP, and multiple GPP datasets derived from satellite-based products, dynamic global vegetation model (DGVM) simulations, and an upscaled product from eddy covariance (EC) measurements, here we comprehensively investigated their trends and analyzed the causes for any discrepancies during 1982-2015. Although spatial patterns of climatological annual GPP from all products and NIRv are highly correlated (r>0.84), the spatial correlation coefficients of trends between DGVM GPP and NIRv significantly decreased (with the ensemble mean of rCombining double low line0.49) and even the spatial correlation coefficients of trends between other GPP products and NIRv became negative. By separating the global land into the tropics plus extratropical Southern Hemisphere (Trop+SH) and extratropical Northern Hemisphere (NH), we found that, during 1982-2015, simulated GPP from most of the models showed a stronger increasing trend over Trop+SH than NH. In contrast, the satellite-based GPP products indicated a substantial increase over NH. Mechanistically, model sensitivity experiments indicated that the increase of annual global total GPP was dominated by the CO2 fertilization effect (83.9g% contribution), however, with the largest uncertainty in magnitude in individual simulations among the three drivers of CO2 fertilization, climate, and land-use change. Interestingly, the spatial distribution of inter-model spreads of GPP trends resulted mainly from climate and land-use change rather than CO2 fertilization effect. After 2000, trends from satellite-based GPP products were different from the full time series, suggesting weakened rising trends over NH and even significantly decreasing trends over Trop+SH, while the trends from DGVMs and NIRv kept increasing. The inconsistencies of GPP trends are very likely caused by the contrasting performance between satellite-derived and DGVM simulated vegetation structure parameter (leaf area index, LAI). Therefore, the uncertainty in satellite-based GPP products induced by highly uncertain LAI data in the tropics undermines their roles in assessing the performance of DGVM simulations and understanding the changes of global carbon sinks. The higher consistency between DGVM GPP and NIRv suggests that the trends from a DGVM ensemble might even have better performance than satellite-based GPP products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-849
Number of pages17
JournalEarth System Dynamics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 19 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Divergent historical GPP trends among state-of-the-art multi-model simulations and satellite-based products'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this