Oil palm modelling in the global land surface model ORCHIDEE-MICT

Yidi Xu, Philippe Ciais, Le Yu (Lead / Corresponding author), Wei Li (Lead / Corresponding author), Xiuzhi Chen, Haicheng Zhang, Chao Yue, Kasturi Kanniah, Arthur P. Cracknell, Peng Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
89 Downloads (Pure)


Oil palm is the most productive oil crop that provides ∼40% of the global vegetable oil supply, with 7% of the cultivated land devoted to oil plants. The rapid expansion of oil palm cultivation is seen as one of the major causes for deforestation emissions and threatens the conservation of rain forest and swamp areas and their associated ecosystem services in tropical areas. Given the importance of oil palm in oil production and its adverse environmental consequences, it is important to understand the physiological and phenological processes of oil palm and its impacts on the carbon, water and energy cycles. In most global vegetation models, oil palm is represented by generic plant functional types (PFTs) without specific representation of its morphological, physical and physiological traits. This would cause biases in the subsequent simulations. In this study, we introduced a new specific PFT for oil palm in the global land surface model ORCHIDEE-MICT (v8.4.2, Organising Carbon and Hydrology in Dynamic Ecosystems-aMeliorated Interactions between Carbon and Temperature). The specific morphology, phenology and harvest process of oil palm were implemented, and the plant carbon allocation scheme was modified to support the growth of the branch and fruit component of each phytomer. A new age-specific parameterization scheme for photosynthesis, autotrophic respiration and carbon allocation was also developed for the oil palm PFT, based on observed physiology, and was calibrated by observations. The improved model generally reproduces the leaf area index, biomass density and fruit yield during the life cycle at 14 observation sites. Photosynthesis, carbon allocation and biomass components for oil palm also agree well with observations. This explicit representation of oil palm in a global land surface model offers a useful tool for understanding the ecological processes of oil palm growth and assessing the environmental impacts of oil palm plantations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4573-4592
Number of pages20
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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