Evaluation of six process-based forest growth models using eddy-covariance measurements of CO2 and H2O fluxes at six forest sites in Europe

K. Kramer, I. Leinonen, H. H. Bartelink, P. Berbigier, M. Borghetti, C. Bernhofer, E. Cienciala, A. J. Dolman, O. Froer, C. A. Gracia, A. Granier, T. Grünwald, P. Hari, W. Jans, S. Kellomäki, D. Loustau, F. Magnani, T. Markkanen, G. Matteucci, G. M.J. MohrenE. Moors, A. Nissinen, H. Peltola, S. Sabaté, A. Sanchez, M. Sontag, R. Valentini, T. Vesala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


Reliable models are required to assess the impacts of climate change on forest ecosystems. Precise and independent data are essential to assess this accuracy. The flux measurements collected by the EUROFLUX project over a wide range of forest types and climatic regions in Europe allow a critical testing of the process-based models which were developed in the LTEEF project. The ECOCRAFT project complements this with a wealth of independent plant physiological measurements. Thus, it was aimed in this study to test six process-based forest growth models against the flux measurements of six European forest types, taking advantage of a large database with plant physiological parameters. The reliability of both the flux data and parameter values itself was not under discussion in this study. The data provided by the researchers of the EUROFLUX sites, possibly with local corrections, were used with a minor gap-filling procedure to avoid the loss of many days with observations. The model performance is discussed based on their accuracy, generality and realism. Accuracy was evaluated based on the goodness-of-fit with observed values of daily net ecosystem exchange, gross primary production and ecosystem respiration (gC m(-2) d(-1) and transpiration (kg H-2 O m(-2) d(-1) ). Moreover, accuracy was also evaluated based on systematic and unsystematic errors. Generality was characterized by the applicability of the models to different European forest ecosystems. Reality was evaluated by comparing the modelled and observed responses of gross primary production, ecosystem respiration to radiation and temperature. The results indicated that: Accuracy . All models showed similar high correlation with the measured carbon flux data, and also low systematic and unsystematic prediction errors at one or more sites of flux measurements. The results were similar in the case of several models when the water fluxes were considered. Most models fulfilled the criteria of sufficient accuracy for the ability to predict the carbon and water exchange between forests and the atmosphere. Generality. Three models of six could be applied for both deciduous and coniferous forests. Furthermore, four models were applied both for boreal and temperate conditions. However, no severe water-limited conditions were encountered, and no year-to-year variability could be tested. Realism. Most models fulfil the criterion of realism that the relationships between the modelled phenomena (carbon and water exchange) and environment are described causally. Again several of the models were able to reproduce the responses of measurable variables such as gross primary production (GPP), ecosystem respiration and transpiration to environmental driving factors such as radiation and temperature. Stomatal conductance appears to be the most critical process causing differences in predicted fluxes of carbon and water between those models that accurately describe the annual totals of GPP, ecosystem respiration and transpiration. As a conclusion, several process-based models are available that produce accurate estimates of carbon and water fluxes at several forest sites of Europe. This considerable accuracy fulfils one requirement of models to be able to predict the impacts of climate change on the carbon balance of European forests. However, the generality of the models should be further evaluated by expanding the range of testing over both time and space. In addition, differences in behaviour between models at the process level indicate requirement of further model testing, with special emphasis on modelling stomatal conductance realistically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-230
Number of pages18
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Accuracy
  • Climate change
  • Generality
  • Process models
  • Realism
  • Water and carbon fluxes


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of six process-based forest growth models using eddy-covariance measurements of CO2 and H2O fluxes at six forest sites in Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this