I am broadly interested in the interactions between land and the atmosphere, with particular emphasis on land surface model development. The climate system is highly sensitive to the conditions at the land surface. The communities of vegetation on land strongly influence climate, especially through their effects on surface albedo, evapotranspiration, and trace gas exchange. A decade ago, Plant Functional Types (PFTs) were introduced into land surface models to better represent vegetation feedbacks to the climate and to link climate models with ecosystem models. However, there are important variations within each PFT that limit this modeling approach. As our computer systems and observational networks develop, it becomes increasingly feasible to incorporate more detailed plant traits to replace the PFT approach, or in other words, to distinguish different plant traits within PFTs. I have been involved in the PFT implementation in the last generation of land surface models, and I am excited to take part in the new step forward to incorporate more detailed plant traits into land surface models.
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