Regional estimates of the effects of ozone pollution on forest growth depend on the availability of reliable injury functions that estimate a representative ecosystem response to ozone exposure. A number of such injury functions for forest tree species and forest functional types have recently been published and subsequently applied in terrestrial biosphere models to estimate regional or global effects of ozone on forest tree productivity and carbon storage in the living plant biomass. The resulting impacts estimated by these biosphere models show large uncertainty in the magnitude of ozone effects predicted. To understand the role that these injury functions play in determining the variability in estimated ozone impacts, the O-CN biosphere model is used to provide a standardised modelling framework. The authors tested four published injury functions describing the leaf-level, photosynthetic response to ozone exposure (targeting the maximum carboxylation capacity of Rubisco (Vcmax) or net photosynthesis) in terms of their simulated whole-tree biomass responses against data from 23 ozone filtration/fumigation experiments conducted with young trees from European tree species at sites across Europe with a range of climatic conditions.
The results show that none of these previously published injury functions lead to simulated whole-tree biomass reductions in agreement with the observed dose–response relationships derived from these field experiments and instead lead to significant over- or underestimations of the ozone effect. By re-parameterising these photosynthetically based injury functions, they developed linear, plant-functional-type-specific dose–response relationships, which provide accurate simulations of the observed whole-tree biomass response across these 23 experiments.