Ecosystems are principal components of research on environmental
change. Observational and modeling research on ecosystems at the
global scale, however, has lagged behind their counterparts for
oceanic and atmospheric systems, largely because the unique challenges
associated with the tremendous diversity and complexity of ecosystems.
Building a successful, integrated model of the global change in
the Earth system requires a reliable model of ecosystem dynamics,
in combination with accurate environmental and ecological data to
support and validate the model. In the Ecosystem Change Research
Program (ECRP), we investigate how ecosystem processes influence
global scale environmental/climatic changes such as those associated
with global warming. We also seek to identify and model, with improved
accuracy, the mechanisms through which global environmental/climatic
change influences ecosystems.
We have achieved several major goals, including development of Sim-CYCLE
to model the effects of atmospheric/environmental changes on global/terrestrial
scale production and carbon budget in the ecosystem. We also developed
a Pipe-Tree Model to simulate the effects of environmental/climatic
change on the growth of individual trees.
In addition, we made new advances in understanding and modeling
of the spatial distribution and dynamics of vegetation and snow
on land, and phytoplankton and CO2 exchange
in the ocean through analysis of terrestrial and oceanic observational
We will continue to direct our research toward achieving further
progress in the topics described above. In addition, we plan to
construct an integrated model of Earth system dynamics through cross-cutting
research between groups and between programs.