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J Exp Bot. 2010 Mar;61(5):1293-309. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erq019. Epub 2010 Mar 4.

Terrestrial plant production and climate change.

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  • 1Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Downing Place, Cambridge CB2 3EN, UK. adf10@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

The likely future increase in atmospheric CO(2) and associated changes in climate will affect global patterns of plant production. Models integrate understanding of the influence of the environment on plant physiological processes and so enable estimates of future changes to be made. Moreover, they allow us to assess the consequences of different assumptions for predictions and so stimulate further research. This paper is a review of the sensitivities of one such model, Hybrid6.5, a detailed mechanistic model of terrestrial primary production. This model is typical of its type, and the sensitivities of the global distribution of predicted production to model assumptions and possible future CO(2) levels and climate are assessed. Sensitivity tests show that leaf phenology has large effects on mean C(3) crop and needleleaved cold deciduous tree production, reducing potential net primary production (NPP) from that obtained using constant maximum annual leaf area index by 32.9% and 41.6%, respectively. Generalized Plant Type (GPT) specific parameterizations, particularly photosynthetic capacity per unit leaf N, affect mean predicted NPP of higher C(3) plants by -22.3% to 27.9%, depending on the GPT, compared to NPP predictions obtained using mean parameter values. An increase in atmospheric CO(2) concentrations from current values to 720 ppm by the end of this century, with associated effects on climate from a typical climate model, is predicted to increase global NPP by 37.3%. Mean increases range from 43.9-52.9% across different C(3) GPTs, whereas the mean NPP of C(4) grass and crop increases by 5.9%. Significant uncertainties concern the extent to which acclimative processes may reduce any potential future increase in primary production and the degree to which any gains are transferred to durable, and especially edible, biomass. Experimentalists and modellers need to work closely together to reduce these uncertainties. A number of research priorities are suggested. 'The green leaf or, to be more precise, the microscopic green grain of chlorophyll, is the focus, the point in the world to which solar energy flows on one side while all the manifestations of life on earth take their source on the other side.' Kliment Arkadievich Timiryazev The conclusions of a century of plant physiology, speech at Moscow University, 12 January 1901.

PMID:
20202998
DOI:
10.1093/jxb/erq019
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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