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J Environ Manage. 2007 Nov;85(3):585-96. Epub 2006 Dec 20.

Effects of topography on simulated net primary productivity at landscape scale.

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International Institute of Earth System Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China.


Local topography significantly affects spatial variations of climatic variables and soil water movement in complex terrain. Therefore, the distribution and productivity of ecosystems are closely linked to topography. Using a coupled terrestrial carbon and hydrological model (BEPS-TerrainLab model), the topographic effects on the net primary productivity (NPP) are analyzed through four modelling experiments for a 5700 km(2) area in Baohe River basin, Shaanxi Province, northwest of China. The model was able to capture 81% of the variability in NPP estimated from tree rings, with a mean relative error of 3.1%. The average NPP in 2003 for the study area was 741 gCm(-2)yr(-1) from a model run including topographic effects on the distributions of climate variables and lateral flow of ground water. Topography has considerable effect on NPP, which peaks near 1350 m above the sea level. An elevation increase of 100 m above this level reduces the average annual NPP by about 25 gCm(-2). The terrain aspect gives rise to a NPP change of 5% for forests located below 1900 m as a result of its influence on incident solar radiation. For the whole study area, a simulation totally excluding topographic effects on the distributions of climatic variables and ground water movement overestimated the average NPP by 5%.

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