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Partitioning global land evapotranspiration using CMIP5 models constrained by observations

Abstract : The ratio of plant transpiration to total terrestrial evapotranspiration (T/ET) captures the role of vegetation in surface–atmosphere interactions. However, its magnitude remains highly uncertain at the global scale. Here we apply an emergent constraint approach that integrates CMIP5 Earth system models (ESMs) with 33 field T/ET measurements to re-estimate the global T/ET value. Our observational constraint strongly increases the original ESM estimates (0.41 ± 0.11) and greatly alleviates intermodel discrepancy, which leads to a new global T/ET estimate of 0.62 ± 0.06. For all the ESMs, the leaf area index is identified as the primary driver of spatial variations of T/ET, but to correct its bias generates a larger T/ET underestimation than the original ESM output. We present evidence that the ESM underestimation of T/ET is, instead, attributable to inaccurate representation of canopy light use, interception loss and root water uptake processes in the ESMs. These processes should be prioritized to reduce model uncertainties in the global hydrological cycle.
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Contributor : Bruno Savelli <>
Submitted on : Friday, September 14, 2018 - 11:22:41 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 4:24:02 PM



Xu Lian, Shilong Piao, Chris Huntingford, Yue Li, Zhenzhong Zeng, et al.. Partitioning global land evapotranspiration using CMIP5 models constrained by observations. Nature Climate Change, Nature Publishing Group, 2018, 8, pp.640 - 646. ⟨10.1038/s41558-018-0207-9⟩. ⟨cea-01874286⟩



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