Athanasios Paschalis, Imperial College London
Simone Fatichi, Institute of Environmental Engineering
Jakob Zscheischler, University of Bern
Philippe Ciais, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement
Michael Bahn, University of Innsbruck
Lena Boysen, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Jinfeng Chang, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement
Martin De Kauwe, University of New South Wales
Marc Estiarte, Global Ecology Unit CREAF‐CSIC‐UAB
Daniel Goll, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement
Paul J. Hanson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Anna B. Harper, University of Exeter
Enqing Hou, Northern Arizona University
Jaime Kigel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Alan K. Knapp, Colorado State University
Klaus S. Larsen, University of Copenhagen
Wei Li, Tsinghua University
Sebastian Lienert, University of Bern
Yiqi Luo, Northern Arizona UniversityFollow
Patrick Meir, Australian National University
Julia E.M.S. Nabel, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Romà Ogaya, Global Ecology Unit CREAF‐CSIC‐UAB
Anthony J. Parolari, Marquette UniversityFollow
Changhui Peng, University of Quebec at Montreal
Josep Peñuelas, Global Ecology Unit CREAF‐CSIC‐UAB
Julia Pongratz, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Serge Rambal, Université de Montpellier
Inger K. Schmidt, University of Copenhagen
Hao Shi, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Marcelo Sternberg, Tel Aviv University
Hanqin Tian, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Elisabeth Tschumi, University of Bern
Anna Ukkola, University of New South Wales
Sara Vicca, University of Antwerp
Nicolas Viovy, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement
Ying-Ping Wang, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research
Zhuonan Wang, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Karina Williams, Met Office Hadley Centre
Donghai Wu, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences
Qiuan Zhu, College of Forestry

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Global Change Biology

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Changes in rainfall amounts and patterns have been observed and are expected to continue in the near future with potentially significant ecological and societal consequences. Modelling vegetation responses to changes in rainfall is thus crucial to project water and carbon cycles in the future. In this study, we present the results of a new model‐data intercomparison project, where we tested the ability of 10 terrestrial biosphere models to reproduce the observed sensitivity of ecosystem productivity to rainfall changes at 10 sites across the globe, in nine of which, rainfall exclusion and/or irrigation experiments had been performed. The key results are as follows: (a) Inter‐model variation is generally large and model agreement varies with timescales. In severely water‐limited sites, models only agree on the interannual variability of evapotranspiration and to a smaller extent on gross primary productivity. In more mesic sites, model agreement for both water and carbon fluxes is typically higher on fine (daily–monthly) timescales and reduces on longer (seasonal–annual) scales. (b) Models on average overestimate the relationship between ecosystem productivity and mean rainfall amounts across sites (in space) and have a low capacity in reproducing the temporal (interannual) sensitivity of vegetation productivity to annual rainfall at a given site, even though observation uncertainty is comparable to inter‐model variability. (c) Most models reproduced the sign of the observed patterns in productivity changes in rainfall manipulation experiments but had a low capacity in reproducing the observed magnitude of productivity changes. Models better reproduced the observed productivity responses due to rainfall exclusion than addition. (d) All models attribute ecosystem productivity changes to the intensity of vegetation stress and peak leaf area, whereas the impact of the change in growing season length is negligible. The relative contribution of the peak leaf area and vegetation stress intensity was highly variable among models.


Accepted version. Global Change Biology, Vol. 26, No. 6 (June 2020): 3336-3355. DOI. © 2020 Wiley. Used with permission.

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