The interannual variability (IAV) of gross primary productivity (GPP) reflects the sensitivity of GPP to climate variations and contributes substantially to the variations and long-term trend of the atmospheric CO2 growth rate. Analyses of three observation-based GPP products indicate that their IAVs are consistently correlated to terrestrial water storage anomaly over the central US, where episodic droughts occur. A land surface model explicitly representing plant hydraulics and groundwater capillary rise with an adequate soil hydraulics well captures the observed GPP IAV. Our sensitivity experiments indicate that, without representations of plant hydraulics and groundwater capillary rise or using an alternative soil hydraulics, the land model substantially overestimates the GPP IAV and the GPP sensitivity to water in the central US. This study strongly suggests the use of the van Genuchten water retention model to replace the most commonly used Brooks–Corey model, which generally produces too strong matric suction of soil water especially in dry conditions, in land surface modeling. This study highlights the importance of plant and soil hydraulics and surface–groundwater interactions to Earth system modeling for projections of future climates that may experience more intense and frequent droughts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science