3D-CMCC-FEM model

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Forest Modelling Lab.

The 3D-CMCC-FEM (Three Dimensional - Coupled Model Carbon Cycle - Forest Ecosystem Model) is the bio-geochemical, biophysical, mechanistic process-based model of the Forest Modelling Laboratory at the National Research Council of Italy (CNR). The 3D-CMCC-FEM simulates forest growth and structure dynamics, as well as Carbon, Nitrogen, Energy and Water cycle at forest ecosystem scale on a daily time step. In the context of the scientific research on climate change,[1] the model provides predictions, among the other things, on carbon sequestration in forest ecosystems, forest development, and carbon stock dynamics contributing to understand the mitigation role of forests and their management.

Model description[edit]

The 3D-CMCC-FEM (see its home page) simulates the dynamics occurring both in homogeneous and heterogeneous forests with different plant species, also if simultaneously composed by evergreen and deciduous, for different age (cohorts), tree diameter at breast height classes, and tree height classes [2]. The model is able to reproduce forests with a complex canopy structure composed by cohorts competiting with each other for light and water. The model simulates carbon, nitrogen, energy and water fluxes, the first in terms of gross and net primary production (GPP and NPP, respectively), partitioning and allocation in the main plant compartments (stem, branch, leaf, fruit, fine and coarse root, non-structural carbon). In the most recent versions, nitrogen fluxes and allocation, in the same carbon pools, are also reproduced. The 3D-CMCC-FEM also takes into account management practices, as thinning and harvest (including replanting), to predict their effects on forest growth and carbon sequestration.

The 3D-CMCC-FEM is a command line program, written in C (programming language) and divided into several subroutines each representing a specific eco-physiological process. To run the model, some input data are required. The meteorological forcing variables, on a daily time step, are represented by average: minimum and maximum air temperature, shortwave radiation, precipitation, vapour-pressure deficit (or relative humidity). The model also needs some basic information to be initialised about soil, such as soil depth and texture (clay, silt and sand fractions), as well as the forest stand information referred to plant species, ages, diameters, heights and stand density. An additional input is represented by species-specific eco-physiological data for the model parameterization. The 3D-CMCC-FEM code is open and freely downloadable at github.com under specific terms and conditions.

Model history[edit]

The 3D-CMCC-FEM model has been primarily implemented by Dr. Alessio Collalti formerly both at Foundation Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change (CMCC), Division Impacts on Agriculture, Forest and Ecosystem Services, Viterbo Division (CMCC-IAFES-VT) and at the Tuscia University (UNITUS), Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-food and Forest systems (UNITUS-DIBAF); and subsequently at the National Research Council (CNR), Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Systems in the Mediterranean (CNR-ISAFOM). During the years, several improved versions of the model have been developed. In the early version of 2014 only carbon cycle has been simulated, at monthly time step, reproducing fluxes and allocation in 3 main compartments (stem, leaf and root) subsequently increased to the 6 described above[3], while plant respiration was considered as a fixed fraction of GPP[4]. The 5.1 version of 2016[5][6] has been characterised by the addition of nitrogen dynamics, non-structural carbon (NSC) and simulation of the processes at daily time scale and the explicit simulation of autotrophic respiration[7]. In the 5.3.3-ISIMIP version of 2018,[8] the reproduction of atmospheric CO2 effects on the simulated processes and the dynamics related to plant mortality have been added explicitly as the effect on the 5.4-BGC (and subsequents) versions of the model [9], acclimation of leaf photosynthesis to increasing temperature is accounted following Kattge & Knorr (2007). In both versions, FEM and BGC , acclimation of autotrophic respiration is based on Smith & Dukes (2013). In the current version (v.5.4 and subsequent), to simulate plant photosynthesis, the Light Use Efficiency (LUE) approach has been substituted by the Farquhar, von Caemmerer and Berry (FvCB, Farquhar et al., 1980) approach as implemented in the DePury and Farquhar method (however, both versions can still be used depending on the choice of the user). The photosynthesis rate depends on nitrogen content in the leaves and RuBisCO, the temperature leading enzyme kinetics, the maintenance respiration and the difference between internal and external partial pressure of CO2. The version which uses LUE approach is commonly denoted as the 'FEM' version, while the one which uses FvCB is denoted as BGC version. Recently, Dr. Carlo Trotta, within the EU Life Project OLIVE4CLIMATE, has developed a model version for Olive (Olea europea) orchards, namely 3D-CMCC-OLIVE.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The latest stable and validated version is the v.5.5-ISIMIP which is property uniquely of the Forest Modelling Laboratory and is release open-access but under specific terms and conditions. We do not recommend to use and we claim no responsibility in using previous and/or not-tested versions released by third parties.

Main simulated processes[edit]

The main processes simulated by 3D-CMCC-FEM are constituted by:

  • Photosynthesis (or Gross Primary Production, GPP), Version: BGC: Farquhar, von Caemmerer and Berry (FvCB, Farquhar et al., 1980) approach as implemented in the DePury and Farquhar method; and, Version FEM: Light Use Efficiency approach (LUE, Monteith 1977)
  • Carbon and Nitrogen allocation in different plant compartments (stem, branch, leaf, fruit, fine and coarse root, non-structural carbon);
  • Non-Structural Carbon (NSC) dynamic;
  • Autotrophic respiration (Ra), divided into maintenance (Rm) and growth respiration (Rg) components;
  • Net Primary Production (NPP) is the result of GPP minus Autotrophic Respiration;
  • Carbon balance
  • Nitrogen balance
  • Light interception, reflection and absorption
  • Energy balance
  • Rain interception and evaporation
  • Leaf transpiration and Evapotranspiration
  • Light and Water competition among different forest canopy layers and cohorts;
  • Soil evaporation
  • Snow formation, sublimation and melt
  • Water balance, simulated by a soil bucket layer model;
  • Carbon woody stocks and Harvested Woody Products (HWP) production
  • Plant mortality, due to three main causes: age, crowding competition and reserve depletions (C-starvation).

Model applicability[edit]

  • Climate Change impacts scenarios
  • Forest monitoring
  • Adaptive and Business As Usual Management scenarios

Model future developments[edit]

To improve the simulation of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycles in the soil, the 3D-CMCC SOIL module is under implementation by Dr. Daniela Dalmonech and Gina Marano. The module is constituted by a core that reproduces the key C- and N-dynamics[10] related to litter and Soil Organic Matter (SOM) decomposition, transformation in more recalcitrant organic compounds (immobilization), nitrogen conversion in mineral form (mineralization), plant nutrient uptake, nitrogen input to the inorganic pool (symbiotic biological nitrogen fixation), CO2 emission in the atmosphere by heterotrophic respiration and the nutrient losses from the soil due to denitrification and leaching. The core will be subsequently integrated by the dynamics of root exudate production and mycorrhizae.

Team lab. and collaborators[edit]

  • Alessio Collalti (Lab. Head and Principal Investigator)
  • Daniela Dalmonech
  • Vincenzo Saponaro (PhD student)
  • Riccardo Testolin
  • Gina Marano
  • Ettore D'Andrea
  • Elisa Grieco
  • Giorgio Matteucci
  • Negar Razaei

Past students and external collaborators[edit]

  • Peter E. Thornton (external collaborator)
  • Carlo Trotta (external collaborator)
  • Alessio Ribeca (external collaborator)
  • Andreas Ibrom (external collaborator)
  • Melania Michetti (external collaborator)
  • Sergio Marconi
  • Corrado Biondo
  • Giulia Mengoli
  • Gaetano Pellicone

Projects and model applications[edit]

The 3D-CMCC-FEM has been applied to several European sites since its born (e.g.[11]) constituted by Mediterranean, temperate, subalpine and boreal forests, involving several plant species, as Picea abies, Pinus laricio, Fagus sylvatica, Pinus pinaster, Pinus sylvestris, Quercus ilex, Quercus robur and Quercus cerris.

As at 2021 the Forest Modelling Lab. and the 3D-CMCC-FEM are involved in the following national and international projects:

  • HE-ForestNavigator
  • PRIN-MULTIFOR (Multi-scale observations to predict Forest response to pollution and climate change)
  • PRIN-WATERSTEAM (Unraveling interactions between WATER and carbon cycles during drought and their impact on water resources and forest and grassland ecosySTEMs in the Mediterranean climate)
  • Cost-Action PROCLIAS (Process-based models for climate impact attribution across sectors)
  • eLTER-H2020 (Long-Term Ecosystem Research in Europe)
  • ISIMIP (The Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project)
  • LANDSUPPORT-H2020 (Development of Integrated Web-Based Land Decision Support System Aiming Towards the Implementation of Policies for Agriculture and Environment)

In the past years the 3D-CMCC-FEM has participated to the following national and international projects:

  • MEDSCOPE (MEDiterranean Services Chain based On climate PrEdiction)
  • CRESCENDO-H2020 (Coordinated research in Earth Systems and climate: experiments, knowledge, dissemination and outreach)
  • FORMASAM (EFI-funded, Forest Management Scenarios for Adaptation and Mitigation)
  • REFORM (REsilience of FORest Mixtures)
  • Cost-Action PROFOUND
  • MADAMES (Mitigation and ADaptation Analysis for Mediterranean Ecosystem Services)
  • CarboItaly


  1. "Climate Change - 2nd Edition". www.elsevier.com. Retrieved 2019-02-03.
  2. Collalti, A.; Perugini, L.; Santini, M.; Chiti, T.; Nolè, A.; Matteucci, G.; Valentini, R. (2014). "A process-based model to simulate growth in forests with complex structure: Evaluation and use of 3D-CMCC Forest Ecosystem Model in a deciduous forest in Central Italy". Ecological Modelling. 272: 362–378. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.09.016. ISSN 0304-3800.
  3. Merganicová, K.; Merganic, J.; Lehtonen, A.; Vacchiano, G.; Sever, M.Z.O.; Augustynczik, A.L.D..; Grote, R.; Kyselova, I.; Mäkelä, A.; Yousefpour, R.; Krejza, J.; Collalti, A.; Reyer, C.P.O. (2019). "Forest carbon allocation modelling under climate change". Tree Physiology. 39: 1937–1960. doi:10.1093/treephys/tpz105.2019.11.21. ISSN 1758-4469.
  4. Collalti, A.; Prentice, I.C. (2019). "Is NPP proportional to GPP? Waring's hypothesis 20 years on". Tree Physiology. 39 (8): 1473–1483. doi:10.1093/treephys/tpz034.
  5. Collalti, A.; Marconi, S.; Ibrom, A.; Trotta, C.; Anav, A.; D'Andrea, E.; Matteucci, G.; Montagnani, L.; Gielen, B.; Mammarella, I.; Grunwald, T.; Knohl, A.; Berninger, F.; Zaho, Y.; Valentini, R.; Santini, M. (2016). "Validation of 3D-CMCC Forest Ecosystem Model (v.5.1) against eddy covariance data for 10 European forest sites". Geoscientific Model Development. 9 (2): 479–504. Bibcode:2016GMD.....9..479C. doi:10.5194/gmd-9-479-2016. ISSN 1991-959X.
  6. Marconi, S.; Chiti, T.; Nolè, A.; Valentini, R.; Collalti, A. (2017). "The Role of Respiration in Estimation of Net Carbon Cycle: Coupling Soil Carbon Dynamics and Canopy Turnover in a Novel Version of 3D-CMCC Forest Ecosystem Model". Forests. 8 (6): 220. doi:10.3390/f8060220.
  7. Collalti, A.; Tjoelker, M.G.; Hoch, G.; Mäkelä, A.; Guidolotti, G.; Heskel, M; Petit, G.; Ryan, M.G.; Battipaglia, G.; Matteucci, G.; Prentice, I.C. (2019). "Plant respiration: Controlled by photosynthesis or biomass?". Global Change Biology. 00 (0): 1–15. doi:10.1111/gcb.14857. ISSN 1365-2486.
  8. Collalti, A.; Trotta, C.; Keenan, T.F.; Ibrom, A.; Bond‐Lamberty, B.; Grote, R.; Vicca, S.; Reyer, C.P.O.; Migliavacca, M.; Veroustraete, F.; Anav, A.; Campioli, M.; Scoccimarro, E.; Sigut, L.; Grieco, E.; Cescatti, A.; Matteucci, G. (2018). "Thinning Can Reduce Losses in Carbon Use Efficiency and Carbon Stocks in Managed Forests Under Warmer Climate". Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems. 10 (10): 2427–2452. Bibcode:2018JAMES..10.2427C. doi:10.1029/2018MS001275. ISSN 1942-2466.
  9. Collalti, A.; Thornton, P. E.; Cescatti, A.; Rita, A.; Borghetti, M.; Nolè, A.; Trotta, C.; Ciais, P.; Matteucci, G. (2019). "The sensitivity of the forest carbon budget shifts across processes along with stand development and climate change". Ecological Applications. 29 (2): 1–18. doi:10.1002/eap.1837. ISSN 1939-5582. PMID 30549378.
  10. "Nature and Properties of Soils, The, 15th Edition". www.pearson.com. Retrieved 2019-02-03.
  11. Collalti, A.; Biondo, C.; Buttafuoco, G.; Maesano, M.; Caloiero, T.; Lucà, F.; Pellicone, G.; Ricca, N.; Salvati, R.; Veltri, A.; Scarascia Mugnozza, G.; Matteucci, G. (2017). "Protocollo di simulazione, calibrazione e validazione del modello 3D-CMCC-CNR-FEM: il caso studio del bacino altamente strumentato del Bonis in Calabria". Forest@ - Journal of Silviculture and Forest Ecology (in italiano). 14 (1): 247. doi:10.3832/efor2368-014. ISSN 1824-0119.

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