WG5 – Vegetation Processes

The Vegetation Processes Working Group aims to better understand the role of different vegetation types and functioning in coupling the energy, water and carbon cycles through field experimentation, analysis of field data and modelling. We will analyse observational data and use models to investigate the role of vegetation in modulating and coupling the energy, water and carbon cycles. Of particular interest is the role of native dryland ecosystems and land cover change, for example through changes in ET partitioning and timing, surface roughness and soil water dynamics.

Anticipated WG activities include the collation of data sets to answer specific questions about vegetation functioning. This may include research data (e.g. from flux towers, vegetation sampling for mass, biochemistry, isotopes, etc) as well as land cover information derived from remote sensing (e.g., leaf area index, cover fraction, greenness, biomass and land use). These data will be used to test hypotheses about the way vegetation interacts with the water and energy cycles, and to improve models representing vegetation function. Example questions include: How does land cover change affect precipitation? What is the net warming or cooling impact of vegetation change? What are the trade-offs between carbon, water and energy fluxes involved in land cover change? Can vegetation dynamics and function be predicted from optimality in resource use? How will vegetation function change due to global changes in climate and biogeochemical cycles? 

Examples of research in this area include the representation of vegetation groundwater use, the partitioning of evapotranspiration into transpiration and wet canopy and soil evaporation, and predicting stomatal behaviour.  An example data collation activity is the Stomatal Behaviour Synthesis project that collates gas exchange data (including variations in stomatal conductance and corresponding assimilation rates and environmental data) to test the hypothesis of vegetation optimality. Synthesis and review activities may occur as initiated by researchers or in response to priorities expressed by management and policy organisation staff.

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