Evaluation and modification of ELM seasonal deciduous phenology against observations in a southern boreal peatland forest

Lin Meng, Jiafu Mao, Daniel M. Ricciuto, Xiaoying Shi, Andrew D. Richardson, Paul J. Hanson, Jeffrey M. Warren, Yuyu Zhou, Xuecao Li, Li Zhang, Christina Schädel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Phenological transitions determine the timing of changes in land surface properties and the seasonality of exchanges of biosphere-atmosphere energy, water, and carbon. Accurate mechanistic modeling of phenological processes is therefore critical to understand and correctly predict terrestrial ecosystem feedbacks with changing atmospheric and climate conditions. However, the phenological components in the land model of the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Exascale Earth System Model (ELM of E3SM) were previously unable to accurately capture the observed phenological responses to environmental conditions in a well-studied boreal peatland forest. In this research, we introduced new seasonal-deciduous phenology schemes into version 1.0 of ELM and evaluated their performance against the PhenoCam observations at the Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments (SPRUCE) experiment in northern Minnesota from 2015 to 2018. We found that phenology simulated by the revised ELM (i.e., earlier spring onsets and stronger warming responses of spring onsets and autumn senescence) was closer to observations than simulations from the original algorithms for both the deciduous conifer (Larix laricina) and mixed shrub layers. Moreover, the revised ELM generally produced higher carbon and water fluxes (e.g., photosynthesis and evapotranspiration) during the growing season and stronger flux responses to warming than the default ELM. A parameter sensitivity analysis further indicated the significant contribution of phenology parameters to uncertainty in key carbon and water cycle variables, underscoring the importance of precise phenology parameterization. This phenological modeling effort demonstrates the potential to enhance the E3SM representation of land-climate interactions at broader spatiotemporal scales, especially under anticipated elevated CO2 and warming conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108556
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - Oct 15 2021


  • Climate change
  • E3SM
  • ELM
  • Modeling
  • PhenoCam
  • Phenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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