Comparing crop growth and carbon budgets simulated across AmeriFlux agricultural sites using the Community Land Model (CLM)

Ming Chen, Tim J. Griffis, John M. Baker, Jeffrey D. Wood, Tilden Meyers, Andrew Suyker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Improvement of process-based crop models is needed to achieve high fidelity forecasts of regional energy, water, and carbon exchanges. However, most state-of-the-art Land Surface Models (LSMs) assessed in the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Inter-comparison project (CMIP5) simulated crops as unmanaged C3 or C4 grasses. This study evaluated the crop-enabled version of one of the most widely used LSMs, the Community Land Model (CLM4-Crop), for simulating corn and soybean agro-ecosystems at relatively long-time scales (up to 11 years) using 54 site-years of data. We found that CLM4-Crop had a biased phenology during the early growing season and that carbon emissions from corn and soybean were underestimated. The model adopts universal physiological parameters for all crop types neglecting the fact that different crops have different specific leaf area, leaf nitrogen content and vcmax25, etc. As a result, model performance varied considerably according to crop type. Overall, the energy and carbon exchange of corn systems were better simulated than soybean systems. Long-term simulations at multiple sites showed that gross primary production (GPP) was consistently over-estimated at soybean sites leading to very large short and long-term biases. A modified model, CLM4-CropM’, with optimized phenology and calibrated crop physiological parameters yielded significantly better simulations of gross primary production (GPP), ecosystem respiration (ER) and leaf area index (LAI) at both short (hourly) and long-term (annual to decadal) timescales for both soybean and corn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-333
Number of pages19
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - Jun 15 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this research has been provided by the National Science Foundation , ATM-0546476 (TG) and by the Office of Science (BER) U.S. Department of Energy , DE-FG02-06ER64316 (TG and JB). We would like to thank Jens Kattge at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry for his helpful discussions about vcmax of corn and soybean. JDW acknowledges support from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research Program, through Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Terrestrial Ecosystem Science (TES) Science Focus Area (SFA). ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle, LLC, for the U.S. DOE under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • AmeriFlux
  • Carbon budget
  • Crop model
  • Crop phenology
  • Model sensitivity test
  • Multi-site-year calibration


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparing crop growth and carbon budgets simulated across AmeriFlux agricultural sites using the Community Land Model (CLM)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this