Simon Besnard


DOI bib
Memory effects of climate and vegetation affecting net ecosystem CO2 fluxes in global forests
Simon Besnard, Nuno Carvalhais, M. Altaf Arain, Andrew Black, Benjamin Brede, Nina Buchmann, Jiquan Chen, J.G.P.W. Clevers, L.P. Dutrieux, Fabian Gans, Martin Herold, Martin Jung, Yukio Kosugi, Alexander Knohl, Beverly E. Law, Eugénie Paul‐Limoges, Annalea Lohila, Lutz Merbold, Olivier Roupsard, Riccardo Valentini, Sebastian Wolf, Xudong Zhang, Markus Reichstein
PLOS ONE, Volume 14, Issue 2

Forests play a crucial role in the global carbon (C) cycle by storing and sequestering a substantial amount of C in the terrestrial biosphere. Due to temporal dynamics in climate and vegetation activity, there are significant regional variations in carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes between the biosphere and atmosphere in forests that are affecting the global C cycle. Current forest CO2 flux dynamics are controlled by instantaneous climate, soil, and vegetation conditions, which carry legacy effects from disturbances and extreme climate events. Our level of understanding from the legacies of these processes on net CO2 fluxes is still limited due to their complexities and their long-term effects. Here, we combined remote sensing, climate, and eddy-covariance flux data to study net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) at 185 forest sites globally. Instead of commonly used non-dynamic statistical methods, we employed a type of recurrent neural network (RNN), called Long Short-Term Memory network (LSTM) that captures information from the vegetation and climate's temporal dynamics. The resulting data-driven model integrates interannual and seasonal variations of climate and vegetation by using Landsat and climate data at each site. The presented LSTM algorithm was able to effectively describe the overall seasonal variability (Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency, NSE = 0.66) and across-site (NSE = 0.42) variations in NEE, while it had less success in predicting specific seasonal and interannual anomalies (NSE = 0.07). This analysis demonstrated that an LSTM approach with embedded climate and vegetation memory effects outperformed a non-dynamic statistical model (i.e. Random Forest) for estimating NEE. Additionally, it is shown that the vegetation mean seasonal cycle embeds most of the information content to realistically explain the spatial and seasonal variations in NEE. These findings show the relevance of capturing memory effects from both climate and vegetation in quantifying spatio-temporal variations in forest NEE.


DOI bib
Quantifying the effect of forest age in annual net forest carbon balance
Simon Besnard, Nuno Carvalhais, M. Altaf Arain, Andrew Black, S. de Bruin, Nina Buchmann, Alessandro Cescatti, Jiquan Chen, J.G.P.W. Clevers, Ankur R. Desai, Christopher M. Gough, Kateřina Havránková, Martin Herold, Lukas Hörtnagl, Martin Jung, Alexander Knohl, B. Kruijt, Lenka Krupková, Beverly E. Law, Anders Lindroth, Asko Noormets, Olivier Roupsard, R. Steinbrecher, Andrej Varlagin, Caroline Vincke, Markus Reichstein
Environmental Research Letters, Volume 13, Issue 12

Forests dominate carbon (C) exchanges between the terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere on land. In the long term, the net carbon flux between forests and the atmosphere has been significantly impacted by changes in forest cover area and structure due to ecological disturbances and management activities. Current empirical approaches for estimating net ecosystem productivity (NEP) rarely consider forest age as a predictor, which represents variation in physiological processes that can respond differently to environmental drivers, and regrowth following disturbance. Here, we conduct an observational synthesis to empirically determine to what extent climate, soil properties, nitrogen deposition, forest age and management influence the spatial and interannual variability of forest NEP across 126 forest eddy-covariance flux sites worldwide. The empirical models explained up to 62% and 71% of spatio-temporal and across-site variability of annual NEP, respectively. An investigation of model structures revealed that forest age was a dominant factor of NEP spatio-temporal variability in both space and time at the global scale as compared to abiotic factors, such as nutrient availability, soil characteristics and climate. These findings emphasize the importance of forest age in quantifying spatio-temporal variation in NEP using empirical approaches.