An integrated biosphere model of land surface processes, terrestrial carbon balance, and vegetation dynamics

Jonathan A. Foley, I. Cohn Prentice, Navin Ramankutty, Samuel Levis, David Pollard, Steven Sitch, Alex Haxeltine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

957 Citations (SciVal)


Here we present a new terrestrial biosphere model (the Integrated Biosphere Simulator - IBIS) which demonstrates how land surface biophysics, terrestrial carbon fluxes, and global vegetation dynamics can be represented in a single, physically consistent modeling framework. In order to integrate a wide range of biophysical, physiological, and ecological processes, the model is designed around a hierarchical, modular structure and uses a common state description throughout. First, a coupled simulation of the surface water, energy, and carbon fluxes is performed on hourly timesteps and is integrated over the year to estimate the annual water and carbon balance. Next, the annual carbon balance is used to predict changes in the leaf area index and biomass for each of nine plant functional types, which compete for light and water using different ecological strategies. The resulting patterns of annual evapotranspiration, runoff, and net primary productivity are in good agreement with observations. In addition, the model simulates patterns of vegetation dynamics that qualitatively agree with features of the natural process of secondary succession. Comparison of the model's inferred near-equilibrium vegetation categories with a potential natural vegetation map shows a fair degree of agreement. This integrated modeling framework provides a means of simulating both rapid biophysical processes and long-term ecosystem dynamics that can be directly incorporated within atmospheric models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-628
Number of pages26
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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