Data-based perfect-deficit approach to understanding climate extremes and forest carbon assimilation capacity

Suhua Wei, Chuixiang Yi, George Hendrey, Timothy Eaton, Gerald Rustic, Shaoqiang Wang, Heping Liu, Nir Y. Krakauer, Weiguo Wang, Ankur R. Desai, Leonardo Montagnani, Kyaw Tha Paw U, Matthias Falk, Andrew Black, Christian Bernhofer, Thomas Grünwald, Tuomas Laurila, Alessandro Cescatti, Eddy Moors, Rosvel BrachoRiccardo Valentini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Several lines of evidence suggest that the warming climate plays a vital role in driving certain types of extreme weather. The impact of warming and of extreme weather on forest carbon assimilation capacity is poorly known. Filling this knowledge gap is critical towards understanding the amount of carbon that forests can hold. Here, we used a perfect-deficit approach to identify forest canopy photosynthetic capacity (CPC) deficits and analyze how they correlate to climate extremes, based on observational data measured by the eddy covariance method at 27 forest sites over 146 site-years. We found that droughts severely affect the carbon assimilation capacities of evergreen broadleaf forest (EBF) and deciduous broadleaf forest. The carbon assimilation capacities of Mediterranean forests were highly sensitive to climate extremes, while marine forest climates tended to be insensitive to climate extremes. Our estimates suggest an average global reduction of forest CPC due to unfavorable climate extremes of 6.3 Pg C (∼5.2% of global gross primary production) per growing season over 2001-2010, with EBFs contributing 52% of the total reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number065002
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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