Effect of climate-driven changes in species composition on regional emission capacities of biogenic compounds

Guy Schurgers, Almut Arneth, T. Hickler

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13 Citations (SciVal)


Regional or global modeling studies of dynamic vegetation often represent vegetation by large functional units (plant functional types (PFTs)). For simulation of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) in these models, emission capacities, which give the emission under standardized conditions, are provided as an average value for a PFT. These emission capacities thus hide the known heterogeneity in emission characteristics that are not straightforwardly related to functional characteristics of plants. Here we study the effects of the aggregation of species-level information on emission characteristics at PFT level. The roles of temporal and spatial variability are assessed for Europe by comparing simulations that represent vegetation by dominant tree species on the one hand and by plant functional types on the other. We compare a number of time slices between the Last Glacial Maximum (21,000 years ago) and the present day to quantify the effects of dynamically changing vegetation on BVOC emissions. Spatial heterogeneity of emission factors is studied with present-day simulations. We show that isoprene and monoterpene emissions are of similar magnitude in Europe when the simulation represents dominant European tree species, which indicates that simulations applying typical global-scale emission capacities for PFTs tend to overestimate isoprene and underestimate monoterpene emissions. Moreover, both spatial and temporal variability affect emission capacities considerably, and by aggregating these to PFT level averages, one loses the information on local heterogeneity. Given the reactive nature of these compounds, accounting for spatial and temporal heterogeneity can be important for studies of their fate in the atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)D22304
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physical Geography


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