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    A probabilistic risk assessment for the vulnerability of the European carbon cycle to weather extremes: The ecosystem perspective
    (München : European Geopyhsical Union, 2015) Rolinski, S.; Rammig, A.; Walz, A.; von Bloh, W.; van Oijen, M.; Thonicke, K.
    Extreme weather events are likely to occur more often under climate change and the resulting effects on ecosystems could lead to a further acceleration of climate change. But not all extreme weather events lead to extreme ecosystem response. Here, we focus on hazardous ecosystem behaviour and identify coinciding weather conditions. We use a simple probabilistic risk assessment based on time series of ecosystem behaviour and climate conditions. Given the risk assessment terminology, vulnerability and risk for the previously defined hazard are estimated on the basis of observed hazardous ecosystem behaviour. We apply this approach to extreme responses of terrestrial ecosystems to drought, defining the hazard as a negative net biome productivity over a 12-month period. We show an application for two selected sites using data for 1981–2010 and then apply the method to the pan-European scale for the same period, based on numerical modelling results (LPJmL for ecosystem behaviour; ERA-Interim data for climate). Our site-specific results demonstrate the applicability of the proposed method, using the SPEI to describe the climate condition. The site in Spain provides an example of vulnerability to drought because the expected value of the SPEI is 0.4 lower for hazardous than for non-hazardous ecosystem behaviour. In northern Germany, on the contrary, the site is not vulnerable to drought because the SPEI expectation values imply wetter conditions in the hazard case than in the non-hazard case. At the pan-European scale, ecosystem vulnerability to drought is calculated in the Mediterranean and temperate region, whereas Scandinavian ecosystems are vulnerable under conditions without water shortages. These first model-based applications indicate the conceptual advantages of the proposed method by focusing on the identification of critical weather conditions for which we observe hazardous ecosystem behaviour in the analysed data set. Application of the method to empirical time series and to future climate would be important next steps to test the approach.
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    Coincidences of climate extremes and anomalous vegetation responses: Comparing tree ring patterns to simulated productivity
    (München : European Geopyhsical Union, 2015) Rammig, A.; Wiedermann, M.; Donges, J.F.; Babst, F.; von Bloh, W.; Frank, D.; Thonicke, K.; Mahecha, M.D.
    Climate extremes can trigger exceptional responses in terrestrial ecosystems, for instance by altering growth or mortality rates. Such effects are often manifested in reductions in net primary productivity (NPP). Investigating a Europe-wide network of annual radial tree growth records confirms this pattern: we find that 28% of tree ring width (TRW) indices are below two standard deviations in years in which extremely low precipitation, high temperatures or the combination of both noticeably affect tree growth. Based on these findings, we investigate possibilities for detecting climate-driven patterns in long-term TRW data to evaluate state-of-the-art dynamic vegetation models such as the Lund-Potsdam-Jena dynamic global vegetation model for managed land (LPJmL). The major problem in this context is that LPJmL simulates NPP but not explicitly the radial tree growth, and we need to develop a generic method to allow for a comparison between simulated and observed response patterns. We propose an analysis scheme that quantifies the coincidence rate of climate extremes with some biotic responses (here TRW or simulated NPP). We find a relative reduction of 34% in simulated NPP during precipitation, temperature and combined extremes. This reduction is comparable to the TRW response patterns, but the model responds much more sensitively to drought stress. We identify 10 extreme years during the 20th century during which both model and measurements indicate high coincidence rates across Europe. However, we detect substantial regional differences in simulated and observed responses to climatic extreme events. One explanation for this discrepancy could be the tendency of tree ring data to originate from climatically stressed sites. The difference between model and observed data is amplified by the fact that dynamic vegetation models are designed to simulate mean ecosystem responses on landscape or regional scales. We find that both simulation results and measurements display carry-over effects from climate anomalies during the previous year. We conclude that radial tree growth chronologies provide a suitable basis for generic model benchmarks. The broad application of coincidence analysis in generic model benchmarks along with an increased availability of representative long-term measurements and improved process-based models will refine projections of the long-term carbon balance in terrestrial ecosystems.