Land surface modeling inside the Biosphere 2 tropical rain forest biome
Tropical rain forests contribute substantially to regional and global energy, water, and carbon exchanges between the land surface and the atmosphere, and better understanding of the mechanisms of vegetation response to different environmental stresses is needed. The Biosphere 2 facility provides an opportunity to link laboratory‐scale and plot‐scale studies in a controllable environment. We compiled a consistent quality‐controlled time series of climate data from Biosphere 2 and used it to drive the Simple Biosphere model (SiB3) to test how well it represented the behavior of soils and vegetation inside the tropical rain forest biome of Biosphere 2 (B2‐TRF). We found that soil respiration parameterization in SiB3 was not suitable for use in B2‐TRF, so several alternative parameterizations were tested. None gave outstanding results, but a modified version of the parameterization originally proposed for SiB3 gave the best results. With this modification, SiB3 well simulated the observed net ecosystem exchange in B2‐TRF but, significantly, only after additionally modifying parameters describing the thermal tolerance of plants so that photosynthetic capacity was reduced on average but maintained to higher temperatures. This implies either that tropical rain forest species can acclimate to higher temperatures than allowed for by vegetation models or that the plant community assembly in B2‐TRF has shifted to allow continued functioning at higher temperatures, and plants in natural ecosystems could also. In either case, this suggests that the Amazon rain forest may be more resilient to climate change than hitherto thought.