El Maayar, M., N. Ramankutty, and C.J. Kucharik (2006). Modeling Global and Regional Net Primary Production under Elevated Atmospheric CO2: On a Potential Source of Uncertainty. Earth Interactions 10, 1-20.
ABSTRACT: Terrestrial ecosystem models are built, among several reasons, to explore how the Earths biosphere responds to climate change and to the projected continual increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration. Many of these models adopt the Farquhar et al. approach, in which leaf carbon assimilation of C3 plants is regulated by two limitations depending on the rate of Rubisco activity and ribulose-1, 5-bisphosphate regeneration (RuBP). This approach was expanded upon by others to include a third limitation that expresses the occurrence, in some plant species, of a photosynthetic downregulation under high concentrations of ambient CO2. Several ecosystem models, however, constrain leaf photosynthesis using only two limitations according to the original formulation of Farquhar et al. and thus neglect the limitation that represents the downregulation of photosynthesis under elevated atmospheric CO2. In this study, the authors first reviewed the effect of elevated CO2 on photosynthesis of C3 plants, which illustrated that short-term observations are likely to considerably underestimate the number of plant species that exhibit a photosynthetic downregulation. Several recent long-term field observations have shown that such downregulation starts to be effective only after several seasons/years of plant exposure to elevated CO2. Second, an ecosystem model was used to illustrate that neglecting the photosynthetic downregulation may significantly bias predictions of net primary production of the middle and high latitudes under high atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Based on both review of field observations and results of simulations, the authors conclude that a more appropriate representation of plant physiology and choice of plant functional types may be required in ecosystem models in order to accurately simulate plant responses to changing environmental conditions.