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Journal Article

Increased control of vegetation on global terrestrial energy fluxes

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Forzieri, G., Miralles, D. G., Ciais, P., Alkama, R., Ryu, Y., Duveiller, G., et al. (2020). Increased control of vegetation on global terrestrial energy fluxes. Nature Climate Change, 10, 356-362. doi:10.1038/s41558-020-0717-0.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-D944-5
Changes in vegetation structure are expected to influence the redistribution of heat and moisture; however, how variations in the leaf area index (LAI) affect this global energy partitioning is not yet quantified. Here, we estimate that a unit change in LAI leads to 3.66 ± 0.45 and −3.26 ± 0.41 W m−2 in latent (LE) and sensible (H) fluxes, respectively, over the 1982–2016 period. Analysis of an ensemble of data-driven products shows that these sensitivities increase by about 20% over the observational period, prominently in regions with a limited water supply, probably because of an increased transpiration/evaporation ratio. Global greening has caused a decrease in the Bowen ratio (B=H/LE) of −0.010 ± 0.002 per decade, which is attributable to the increased evaporative surface. Such a direct LAI effect on energy fluxes is largely modulated by plant functional types (PFTs) and background climate conditions. Land surface models (LSMs) misrepresent this vegetation control, possibly due to underes-timation of the biophysical responses to changes in the water availability and poor representation of LAI dynami