Benchmarking the seasonal cycle of CO2 fluxes simulated by terrestrial ecosystem models

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We evaluated the seasonality of CO2 fluxes simulated by nine terrestrial ecosystem models of the TRENDY project against (1) the seasonal cycle of gross primary production (GPP) and net ecosystem exchange (NEE) measured at flux tower sites over different biomes, (2) gridded monthly Model Tree Ensembles-estimated GPP (MTE-GPP) and MTE-NEE obtained by interpolating many flux tower measurements with a machine-learning algorithm, (3) atmospheric CO2 mole fraction measurements at surface sites, and (4) CO2 total columns (X-CO2) measurements from the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON). For comparison with atmospheric CO2 measurements, the LMDZ4 transport model was run with time-varying CO2 fluxes of each model as surface boundary conditions. Seven out of the nine models overestimate the seasonal amplitude of GPP and produce a too early start in spring at most flux sites. Despite their positive bias for GPP, the nine models underestimate NEE at most flux sites and in the Northern Hemisphere compared with MTE-NEE. Comparison with surface atmospheric CO2 measurements confirms that most models underestimate the seasonal amplitude of NEE in the Northern Hemisphere (except CLM4C and SDGVM). Comparison with TCCON data also shows that the seasonal amplitude of X-CO2 is underestimated by more than 10% for seven out of the nine models (except for CLM4C and SDGVM) and that the MTE-NEE product is closer to the TCCON data using LMDZ4. From CO2 columns measured routinely at 10 TCCON sites, the constrained amplitude of NEE over the Northern Hemisphere is of 1.60.4 gC m(-2)d(-1), which translates into a net CO2 uptake during the carbon uptake period in the Northern Hemisphere of 7.92.0 PgC yr(-1).


  • Shushi Peng
  • Philippe Ciais
  • Frederic Chevallier
  • Philippe Peylin
  • Patricia Cadule
  • Stephen Sitch
  • Shilong Piao
  • Chris Huntingford
  • Peter Levy
  • Xiran Li
  • Yongwen Liu
  • Mark Lomas
  • Benjamin Poulter
  • Nicolas Viovy
  • Tao Wang
  • Xuhui Wang
  • Soenke Zaehle
  • Ning Zeng
  • Fang Zhao
  • Hongfang Zhao
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Geography


  • carbon cycle, GPP, NEE, seasonal cycle, CO2, TCCON
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-64
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch