Leaf-area index (LAI), the total one-sided surface area of leaf per ground surface area, is a key component of land surface models. We investigate the influence of differing, plausible LAI prescriptions on heat, moisture, and carbon fluxes simulated by the Community Atmosphere Biosphere Land Exchange (CABLEv1.4b) model over the Australian continent. A 15-member ensemble monthly LAI data-set is generated using the MODIS LAI product and gridded observations of temperature and precipitation. Offline simulations lasting 29 years (1980-2008) are carried out at 25 km resolution with the composite monthly means from the MODIS LAI product (control simulation) and compared with simulations using each of the 15-member ensemble monthly-varying LAI data-sets generated. The imposed changes in LAI did not
strongly influence the sensible and latent fluxes but the carbon fluxes were more strongly affected. Croplands showed the largest sensitivity in gross primary production with differences ranging from -90 to 60 %. PFTs with high absolute LAI and low inter-annual variability, such as evergreen broadleaf trees, showed the least response to the different LAI prescriptions, whilst those with lower absolute LAI and higher inter-annual variability, such as croplands, were more sensitive. We show that reliance on a single LAI prescription may not accurately reflect the uncertainty in the simulation of the terrestrial carbon fluxes, especially for PFTs with high inter-annual variability. Our study highlights that the accurate representation of LAI in land surface models is key to the simulation of the
terrestrial carbon cycle. Hence this will become critical in quantifying the uncertainty in future changes in primary production.
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Last updated 31st January 2013