Sources of Uncertainty in Predicting Land Surface Fluxes Using Diverse Data and Models

Jennifer L. Dungan*, Weile Wang, Andrew Michaelis, Petr Votava and Ramakrishna Nemani
Biospheric Science Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA
*Jennifer.L.Dungan@nasa.gov

Abstract: In the domain of predicting land surface fluxes, models are used to bring data from large observation networks and satellite remote sensing together to make predictions about present and future states of the Earth. Characterizing the uncertainty about such predictions is a complex process and one that is not yet fully understood. Uncertainty exists about initialization, measurement and interpolation of input variables; model parameters; model structure; and mixed spatial and temporal supports. Multiple models or structure soften exist to describe the same processes. Uncertainty about structure is currently addressed by running an ensemble of different models and examining the distribution of model outputs. To illustrate structural uncertainty, a multi-model ensemble experiment we have been conducting using the Terrestrial Observation and Prediction System (TOPS) will be discussed. TOPS uses public versions of process-based ecosystem models that use satellite-derived inputs along with surface climate data and land surface characterization to produce predictions of ecosystem fluxes including gross and net primary production and net ecosystem exchange. Using the TOPS framework, we have explored the uncertainty arising from the application of models with different assumptions, structures, parameters, and variable definitions. With a small number of models, this only begins to capture the range of possible spatial fields of ecosystem fluxes. Few attempts have been made to systematically address the components of uncertainty in such a framework. We discuss the characterization of uncertainty for this approach including both quantifiable and poorly known aspects. structures, parameters, and variable definitions. With a small number of models, this only begins to capture the range of possible spatial fields of ecosystem fluxes. Few attempts have been made to systematically address the components of uncertainty in such a framework. We discuss the characterization of uncertainty for this approach including both quantifiable and poorly known aspects.

Keywords: structural uncertainty, ensemble modeling, carbon flux, North America

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