Date of this Version
2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
Improvement of process-based crop models is needed to achieve high fidelity forecasts of regional energy, water, and carbon exchanges. However, most state-of-the-art Land Surface Models (LSMs) assessed in the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Inter-comparison project (CMIP5) simulated crops as unmanaged C3 or C4 grasses. This study evaluated the crop-enabled version of one of the most widely used LSMs, the Community Land Model (CLM4- Crop), for simulating corn and soybean agro-ecosystems at relatively long-time scales (up to 11 years) using 54 site-years of data. We found that CLM4-Crop had a biased phenology during the early growing season and that carbon emissions from corn and soybean were underestimated. The model adopts universal physiological parameters for all crop types neglecting the fact that different crops have different specific leaf area, leaf nitrogen content and vcmax25, etc. As a result, model performance varied considerably according to crop type. Overall, the energy and carbon exchange of corn systems were better simulated than soybean systems. Long-term simulations at multiple sites showed that gross primary production (GPP) was consistently over-estimated at soybean sites leading to very large short and long-term biases. A modified model, CLM4-CropM’, with optimized phenology and calibrated crop physiological parameters yielded significantly better simulations of gross primary production (GPP), ecosystem respiration (ER) and leaf area index (LAI) at both short (hourly) and long-term (annual to decadal) timescales for both soybean and corn.