The Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM)

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The Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM) is a process-based ecosystem model that describes carbon, nitrogen and water dynamics of plants and soils for terrestrial ecosystems of the globe. The TEM uses spatially referenced information on climate, elevation, soils and vegetation as well as soil- and vegetation-specific parameters to make estimates of important carbon, nitrogen and water fluxes and pool sizes of terrestrial ecosystems. The TEM normally operates on a monthly time step and at a 0.5 degrees latitude/longitude spatial resolution, but the model has been applied at finer spatial resolutions (down to 1 hectare).

Improvements in computer resources and the interests of an increasing number of researchers have allowed TEM to evolve over time to better examine the influence of ecosystem processes and human activities on terrestrial biogeochemistry and how changes in this biogeochemistry may feedback to influence atmospheric chemistry, climate, water quantity and quality, and social welfare. As a result, several versions of TEM have been developed over time by different subgroups of modelers. These TEM versions may have different features and may have been applied only to limited regions across the globe. Some versions of TEM has been incorporated into larger modelling frameworks (e.g., MIT Integrated Global System Model [IGSM], CCNY Northeast Regional Earth System Model [NE-REaSM]). Furthermore, the various TEM subgroups have developed input data sets, collaborated with other groups in the development of other ecosystem models, and participated in model intercomparisons to examine how differences in model assumptions may influence simulated ecosystem responses to natural and human disturbances. The purpose of this website is to provide a “roadmap” of the various model versions, people, activities and products related to the on-going development of TEM.

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