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Simple process-led algorithms for simulating habitats (SPLASH v.1.0): robust indices of radiation, evapotranspiration and plant-available moisture

Davis, Tyler W.; Prentice, I. Colin; Stocker, Benjamin D.; Thomas, Rebecca T.; Whitley, Rhys J.; Wang, Han; Evans, Bradley J.; Gallego-Sala, Angela V.; Sykes, Martin T.; Cramer, Wolfgang

Bioclimatic indices for use in studies of ecosystem function, species distribution, and vegetation dynamics under changing climate scenarios depend on estimates of surface fluxes and other quantities, such as radiation, evapotranspiration and soil moisture, for which direct observations are sparse. These quantities can be derived indirectly from meteorological variables, such as near-surface air temperature, precipitation and cloudiness. Here we present the first version of the consolidated Simple Process-Led Algorithms for Simulating Habitats (SPLASH) allowing robust approximations of key quantities at ecologically relevant time scales. We specify equations, derivations, simplifications and assumptions for the estimation of daily and monthly quantities of top-of-the-atmosphere solar radiation, net surface radiation, photosynthetic photon flux density, evapotranspiration (potential, equilibrium and actual), condensation, soil moisture, and runoff, based on analysis of their relationship to fundamental climatic drivers. The climatic drivers include a minimum of three meteorological inputs: precipitation, air temperature, and fraction of bright sunshine hours. The SPLASH code is transcribed in C++, FORTRAN, Python, and R. We present SPLASH in a modular framework to be readable, understandable, and reproducible. One year of example data is also provided.

This work was primarily funded by Imperial College London as a part of the AXA Chair Programme on Biosphere and Climate Impacts. It is a contribution to the Imperial College initiative on Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment, and the Ecosystem Modelling And Scaling Infrastructure (eMAST) facility of the Australian Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN). TERN is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). BDS funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme, under grant agreement number 282672, EMBRACE project. WC contributes to the Labex OT-Med (no. ANR-11-LABX-0061) funded by the French government through the A∗MIDEX project (no. ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02). AGS has been supported by a Natural Environment Research Council grant (NERC grant number NE/I012915/1).
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