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How do we model global plant physiology? A case study of leaf phenology

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Global climate change has raised new questions about the global carbon cycle and, specifically, about the role terrestrial vegetation plays in this cycle. Over the last decades we have acquired a large amount of data on plant traits and processes from a variety of sources that range from field and laboratory studies to space based global measurements. We have also deepened our understanding of plant physiology at the leaf and plant level. What we are faced with now is combining this understanding with the existing data to develop global models that have the capacity to answer questions about the future of the terrestrial carbon cycle. I will describe how such a model can be built and the challenges we face, focusing on the problem of leaf seasonal cycles, known as leaf phenology.

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