Air temperature optima of vegetation productivity across global biomes

Mengtian Huang, Shilong Piao, Philippe Ciais, Josep Peñuelas, Xuhui Wang, Trevor F. Keenan, Shushi Peng, Joseph A. Berry, Kai Wang, Jiafu Mao, Ramdane Alkama, Alessandro Cescatti, Matthias Cuntz, Hannes De Deurwaerder, Mengdi Gao, Yue He, Yongwen Liu, Yiqi Luo, Ranga B. Myneni, Shuli NiuXiaoying Shi, Wenping Yuan, Hans Verbeeck, Tao Wang, Jin Wu, Ivan A. Janssens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

332 Scopus citations


The global distribution of the optimum air temperature for ecosystem-level gross primary productivity (Topteco) is poorly understood, despite its importance for ecosystem carbon uptake under future warming. We provide empirical evidence for the existence of such an optimum, using measurements of in situ eddy covariance and satellite-derived proxies, and report its global distribution. Topteco is consistently lower than the physiological optimum temperature of leaf-level photosynthetic capacity, which typically exceeds 30 °C. The global average Topteco is estimated to be 23 ± 6 °C, with warmer regions having higher Topteco values than colder regions. In tropical forests in particular, Topteco is close to growing-season air temperature and is projected to fall below it under all scenarios of future climate, suggesting a limited safe operating space for these ecosystems under future warming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)772-779
Number of pages8
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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