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Forzieri, Giovanni; Miralles, Diego G.; Ciais, Philippe; Alkama, Ramdane; Ryu, Youngryel; Duveiller, Gregory; Zhang, Ke; Robertson, Eddy; Kautz, Markus; Martens, Brecht; Jiang, Chongya; Arneth, Almut; Georgievski, Goran; Li, Wei; Ceccherini, Guido; Anthoni, Peter; Lawrence, Peter; Wiltshire, Andy; Pongratz, Julia ORCID: 0000-0003-0372-3960; Piao, Shilong; Sitch, Stephen; Goll, Daniel S.; Arora, Vivek K.; Lienert, Sebastian; Lombardozzi, Danica; Kato, Etsushi; Nabel, Julia E. M. S.; Tian, Hanqin; Friedlingstein, Pierre; Cescatti, Alessandro (16. March 2020): Increased control of vegetation on global terrestrial energy fluxes. In: Nature Climate Change
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Changes in vegetation structure are expected to influence the redistribution of heat and moisture; however, how variations in the leaf area index (LAI) affect this global energy partitioning is not yet quantified. Here, we estimate that a unit change in LAI leads to 3.66 ± 0.45 and −3.26 ± 0.41 W m−2 in latent (LE) and sensible (H) fluxes, respectively, over the 1982–2016 period. Analysis of an ensemble of data-driven products shows that these sensitivities increase by about 20% over the observational period, prominently in regions with a limited water supply, probably because of an increased transpiration/evaporation ratio. Global greening has caused a decrease in the Bowen ratio (B = H/LE) of −0.010 ± 0.002 per decade, which is attributable to the increased evaporative surface. Such a direct LAI effect on energy fluxes is largely modulated by plant functional types (PFTs) and background climate conditions. Land surface models (LSMs) misrepresent this vegetation control, possibly due to underestimation of the biophysical responses to changes in the water availability and poor representation of LAI dynamics.