|Title||Evaluation of leaf-to-canopy upscaling methodologies against carbon flux data in North America|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2012|
|Authors||Sprintsin M, Chen JM, Desai AR, Gough CM|
|Journal||Journal of Geophysical Research|
Despite the wide acceptance of the “big-leaf” upscaling strategy in evapotranspiration modeling (e.g., the Penman-Monteith model), its usefulness in simulating canopy photosynthesis may be limited by the underlying assumption of homogeneous response of carbon assimilation light-response kinetics through the canopy. While previous studies have shown that the separation of the canopy into sunlit and shaded parts (i.e., two-leaf model) is typically more effective than big-leaf models for upscaling photosynthesis from leaf to canopy, a systematic comparison between these two upscaling strategies among multiple ecosystems has not been presented. In this study, gross primary productivity was modeled using two-leaf and big-leaf upscaling approaches in the Boreal Ecosystem Productivity Simulator for shrublands, broadleaf, and conifer forest types. When given the same leaf-level photosynthetic parameters, the big-leaf approach significantly underestimated canopy-level GPP while the two-leaf approach more closely predicted both the magnitude and day-to-day variability in eddy covariance measurements. The underestimation by the big-leaf approach is mostly caused by its exclusion of the photosynthetic contributions of shaded leaves. Tests of the model sensitivity to a foliage clumping index revealed that the contribution of shaded leaves to the total simulated productivity can be as high as 70% for highly clumped stands and seldom decreases below ∼40% for less-clumped canopies. Our results indicate that accurate upscaling of photosynthesis across a broad array of ecosystems requires an accurate description of canopy structure in ecosystem models.