The response of the Amazon ecosystem to the photosynthetically active radiation...

Bian, H., E. Lee, R. D. Koster, D. Barahona, M. Chin, P. R. Colarco, A. Darmenov, S. Mahanama, M. Manyin, P. Norris, J. Shilling, H. Yu, and F. Zeng (2021), The response of the Amazon ecosystem to the photosynthetically active radiation fields: integrating impacts of biomass burning aerosol and clouds in the NASA GEOS Earth system model, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 21, 14177-14197, doi:10.5194/acp-21-14177-2021.

The Amazon experiences fires every year, and the resulting biomass burning aerosols, together with cloud particles, influence the penetration of sunlight through the atmosphere, increasing the ratio of diffuse to direct photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) reaching the vegetation canopy and thereby potentially increasing ecosystem productivity. In this study, we use the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) model with coupled aerosol, cloud, radiation, and ecosystem modules to investigate the impact of Amazon biomass burning aerosols on ecosystem productivity, as well as the role of the Amazon’s clouds in tempering this impact. The study focuses on a 7-year period (2010–2016) during which the Amazon experienced a variety of dynamic environments (e.g., La Niña, normal years, and El Niño). The direct radiative impact of biomass burning aerosols on ecosystem productivity – called here the aerosol diffuse radiation fertilization effect – is found to increase Amazonian gross primary production (GPP) by 2.6 % via a 3.8 % increase in diffuse PAR (DFPAR) despite a 5.4 % decrease in direct PAR (DRPAR) on multiyear average during burning seasons. On a monthly basis, this increase in GPP can be as large as 9.9 % (occurring in August 2010). Consequently, the net primary production (NPP) in the Amazon is increased by 1.5 %, or ∼ 92 Tg C yr−1 – equivalent to ∼ 37 % of the average carbon lost due to Amazon fires over the 7 years considered. Clouds, however, strongly regulate the effectiveness of the aerosol diffuse radiation fertilization effect. The efficiency of this fertilization effect is the highest in cloud-free conditions and linearly decreases with increasing cloud amount until the cloud fraction reaches ∼ 0.8, at which point the aerosolinfluenced light changes from being a stimulator to an inhibitor of plant growth. Nevertheless, interannual changes in the overall strength of the aerosol diffuse radiation fertilization effect are primarily controlled by the large interannual changes in biomass burning aerosols rather than by changes in cloudiness during the studied period.

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Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)