EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A machine learning emulator for forest carbon stocks and fluxes

Carolina Natel de Moura, David Martin Belda, Peter Antoni, and Almut Arneth
Carolina Natel de Moura et al.
  • Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU), Campus Alpine, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany (

Forests are a significant carbon sink of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by humans. Climate change is expected to impact forest systems, and their role in the terrestrial carbon cycle in several ways – for example, the fertilization effect of increased atmospheric CO2, and the lengthening of the growing season in northern temperate and boreal areas may increase forest productivity, while more frequent extreme climate events such as storms and windthrows or drought spells, as well as wildfires might reduce disturbances return period, hence increasing forest land loss and reduction of the carbon stored in the vegetation and soils. In addition, forest management in response to an increased demand for wood products and fuel can affect the carbon storage in ecosystems and wood products. State-of-the-art Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs) simulate the forest responses to environmental and human processes, however running these models globally for many climate and management scenarios becomes challenging due to computational restraints. Integration of process-based models and machine learning methods through emulation allows us to speed up computationally expensive simulations. In this work, we explore the use of machine learning to surrogate the LPJ-GUESS DGVM. This emulator is spatially-aware to represent forests across the globe in a flexible spatial resolution, and consider past climate and forest management practices to account for legacy effects. The training data for the emulator is derived from dedicated runs of the DGVM sampled across four dimensions relevant to forest carbon and yield: atmospheric CO2 concentration, air Temperature, Precipitation, and forest Management (CTPM). The emulator can capture relevant forest responses to climate and management in a lightweight form, and will support the development of the coupled socio-economic/ecologic model of the land system, namely LandSyMM ( Other relevant scientific applications include the analysis of optimal forestry protocols under climate change, and the forest potential in climate change mitigation.


How to cite: Natel de Moura, C., Belda, D. M., Antoni, P., and Arneth, A.: A machine learning emulator for forest carbon stocks and fluxes, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-16287,, 2023.