BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Terrestrial Biosphere Models May Overestimate Arctic CO2 Assimilation if They Do Not Account for the Effect of Low Temperature on Photosynthesis
Published: February 14, 2019
Posted: October 22, 2019

Reduced ability to utilize light at low temperature limits CO2 uptake at low light.

The Science
Terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) assume that the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) taken up by plants per unit of light absorbed (quantum yield) is a global constant. This study found that in Arctic vegetation, growing at low temperature, the quantum yield is reduced, limiting the capacity for CO2 assimilation at low light levels.

The Impact
If TBMs do not account for the reduction in quantum yield at low temperature, they could overestimate the capacity of Arctic ecosystems to take up CO2 when light is limiting photosynthesis.

Summary
How TBMs represent leaf photosynthesis and its sensitivity to temperature are two critical components of understanding and predicting the response of the Arctic carbon cycle to global change. Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory measured the effect of temperature on the response of photosynthesis to light in six Arctic plant species and determined the quantum yield of CO2 fixation and the convexity factor, which further describes the response of photosynthesis to light. They also determined leaf absorptance to calculate quantum yield on an absorbed light basis and enable comparison with nine TBMs. The mean quantum yield at 25°C closely agreed with the mean TBM parameterization, but at lower air temperatures, measured quantum yield diverged from TBMs. At 5°C quantum yield was markedly reduced and 60% lower than TBM estimates. The convexity factor also showed a significant reduction between 25°C and 5°C. At 5°C convexity was 38% lower than the common model parameterization. These data show that TBMs are not accounting for observed reductions in quantum yield and convexity that can occur at low temperature. Ignoring these reductions could lead to a marked overestimation of CO2 assimilation at low light and low temperature.

Contacts
BER Program Manager
Daniel Stover
U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research
Climate and Environmental Sciences Division (SC-23.1)
Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
daniel.stover@science.doe.gov

Principal Investigator
Alistair Rogers
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Upton, NY 11973-5000
arogers@bnl.gov

Funding
This work was funded by the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE)–Arctic project, which is supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the Department of Energy Office of Science.

Publications
Rogers, A., S. P. Serbin, K. S. Ely, and S. D. Wullschleger. “Terrestrial biosphere models may overestimate Arctic CO2 assimilation if they do not account for decreased quantum yield and convexity at low temperature.” New Phytologist 223(1), 167–79. [DOI:10.1111/nph.15750]

Related Links
https://ngee-arctic.ornl.gov/

Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environment Systems Data Management
  • Research Area: Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
  • Research Area: Carbon Cycle, Nutrient Cycling
  • Research Area: Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE)

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco
Objectives

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)