Articles | Volume 23, issue 2
28 Feb 2005
 | 28 Feb 2005

Transpiration and CO2 fluxes of a pine forest: modelling the undergrowth effect

V. Rivalland, J.-Ch. Calvet, P. Berbigier, Y. Brunet, and A. Granier

Abstract. A modelling study is performed in order to quantify the relative effect of allowing for the physiological properties of an undergrowth grass sward on total canopy water and carbon fluxes of the Le-Bray forest (Les-Landes, South-western France). The Le-Bray forest consists of maritime pine and an herbaceous undergrowth (purple moor-grass), which is characterised by a low stomatal control of transpiration, in contrast to maritime pine. A CO2-responsive land surface model is used that includes responses of woody and herbaceous species to water stress. An attempt is made to represent the properties of the undergrowth vegetation in the land surface model Interactions between Soil, Biosphere, and Atmosphere, CO2-responsive, ISBA-A-gs. The new adjustment allows for a fairly different environmental response between the forest canopy and the understory in a simple manner. The model's simulations are compared with long term (1997 and 1998) micro-meteorological measurements over the Le-Bray site. The fluxes of energy, water and CO2, are simulated with and without the improved representation of the undergrowth vegetation, and the two simulations are compared with the observations. Accounting for the undergrowth permits one to improve the model's scores. A simple sensitivity experiment shows the behaviour of the model in response to climate change conditions, and the understory effect on the water balance and carbon storage of the forest. Accounting for the distinct characteristics of the undergrowth has a substantial and positive effect on the model accuracy and leads to a different response to climate change scenarios.