Ecoclimates: Climate-Response Modeling of Vegetation

Wojtek Pałubicki, Miłosz Makowski, Weronika Gajda, Torsten Hädrich, Dominik L. Michels, Sören Pirk

One of the greatest challenges to mankind is understanding the underlying principles of climate change. Over the last years, the role of forests in climate change has received increased attention. This is due to the observation that not only the atmosphere has a principal impact on vegetation growth but also that vegetation is contributing to local variations of weather resulting in diverse microclimates. The interconnection of plant ecosystems and weather is described and studied as ecoclimates. In this work we take steps towards simulating ecoclimates by modeling the feedback loops between vegetation, soil, and atmosphere. In contrast to existing methods that only describe the climate at a global scale, our model aims at simulating local variations of climate. Specifically, we model tree growth interactively in response to gradients of water, temperature and light. As a result, we are able to capture a range of ecoclimate phenomena that have not been modeled before, including geomorphic controls, forest edge effects, the Foehn effect and spatial vegetation patterning. To validate the plausibility of our method we conduct a comparative analysis to studies from ecology and climatology. Consequently, our method advances the state-of-the-art of generating highly realistic outdoor landscapes of vegetation.

Ecoclimates: Climate-Response Modeling of Vegetation

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