1. General Model Information

Name: Terrestrial Ecosystem Model

Acronym: TEM

Main medium: terrestrial
Main subject: biogeochemistry
Organization level: ecosystem
Type of model: not specified
Main application: research
Keywords: climate change, global, ecosystem, carbon, nitrogen, Michaelis-Menton


Jerry M. Melillo
A. David McGuire
David W. Kicklighter
Yude Pan
Hanqin Tian
The Ecosystems Center
Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole, MA 02543



TEM (version 4) is a process-based ecosystem model that describes carbon and nitrogen dynamics of plant and soils for non-wetland ecosystems of the globe. It uses spatially referenced information on climate, elevation, soils, vegetation and water availability as well as soil- and vegetation-specific parameters to make monthly estimates of important carbon and nitrogen fluxes and pool sizes. Hydrological inputs for TEM are determined by a water balance model (Vorosmarty et al. 1989) that use the same climatic data and soil-specific parameters as used in TEM. The TEM operates on a monthly time step and at a 0.5 degrees latitude/longitude spatial resolution.

In TEM, annual primary production (NPP) is the difference between carbon captured from the atmosphere as gross primary production (GPP) and carbon respired to the atmosphere by the vegetation. Gross primary production is calculated as a function of light availability, air temperature, atmospheric CO2 concentration, moisture availability and nitrogen supply. The nitrogen uptake in the model is controlled by the stochiometric C:N ratio of biomass production. The carbon-nitrogen status of the vegetation cause the model to allocate more effort towards either carbon or nitrogen uptake. Plant respiration is a function of vegetation carbon (i.e. biomass) and air temperature. In TEM, decomposition is a function of the one soil organic carbon compartment, temperature and soil moisture. The carbon and nitrogen pool sizes of vegetation and soil are affected by dynamic carbon and nitrogen fluxes (NPP, litterfall C, decomposition, litterfall N, net N mineralization, N uptake, etc.). Elevated CO2 may have either a direct or indirect effect on GPP. A direct consequence of elevated atmospheric CO2 is to increase GPP via a Michaelis-Menton (hyperbolic) relationship. Elevated CO2 may indirectly affect GPP by altering the carbon-nitrogen status of the vegetation to increase effort towards nitrogen uptake.

For simulating mature ecosystems at "equilibrium" as required by the VEMAP activity (VEMAP Members, 1995), TEM assumes equilibrium conditions are reached when: 1) annual fluxes of NPP, litterfall carbon, and decomposition are balanced; 2) the annual fluxes of net nitrogen mineralization, litterfall nitrogen, and nitrogen uptake by vegetation are balanced; and 3) nitrogen inputs are equal to nitrogen losses from the ecosystem.

Author of the abstract: VEMAP (Vegetation/Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis Project).

II. Technical Information

II.1 Executables:

Operating System(s):

II.2 Source-code:

Programming Language(s):

II.3 Manuals:

II.4 Data:

III. Mathematical Information

III.1 Mathematics

III.2 Quantities

III.2.1 Input

III.2.2 Output

IV. References

McGuire AD, Melillo, JM, Joyce LA, Kicklighter DW, Grace AL, Moore III B, Vorosmarty CJ 1992.
Interactions between carbon and nitrogen dynamics in estimating net primary productivity for potential vegetation in North America. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 6:101-124.

McGuire AD, Joyce LA, Kicklighter DW, Melillo JM, Esser G, Vorosmarty, CJ 1993.
Productivity response of climax temperate forests to elevated temperature and carbon dioxide: a North American comparison between two global models. Climate Change. 24:287-310.

McGuire AD, Melillo JM, Kicklighter DW, Joyce LA 1996.
Equilibrium responses of soil carbon to climate change: Empirical and process-based estimates. J. Biogeography. In press.

McGuire AD, Kicklighter DW, Melillo JM 1996.
Global climate change and carbon cycling in grasslands and conifer forests. In Global Change: Effect on Coniferous Forests and Grasslands (eds Melillo JM, Breymeyer AI), SCOPE volume chapter. In press.

Melillo JM, McGuire AD, Kicklighter DW, Moore III B, Vorosmarty CJ, Schloss AL 1993.
Global climate change and terrestrial net primary production. Nature. 363:234-240.

Raich JW, Rastetter EB, Melillo JM, 1991.
Potential net primary productivity in south America: Application of a global model. Ecological Application. 4:399-429.

VEMAP Members, 1995.
Vegetation/ecosystem modeling and analysis project: Comparing biogeography and biogeochemistry models in a continental-scale study of terrestrial ecosystem responses to climate change and CO2 doubling. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 4:407-437.

Vorosmarty CJ, Moore III B, Grace AL et al. 1989.
Continental scale model of water balance and fluvial transport: an application to south America. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 3:241-265

V. Further information in the World-Wide-Web

Reports about TEM

VI. Additional remarks

Last review of this document by: October, 19th 1997 M.Sonntag
Status of the document:
last modified by Tobias Gabele Wed Aug 21 21:44:51 CEST 2002

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