Shi, P., Sun, X., Xu, L. et al. SCI CHINA SER D (2006) 49: 207. doi:10.1007/s11430-006-8207-4
Knowledge of seasonal variation of net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) and its biotic and abiotic controllers will further our understanding of carbon cycling process, mechanism and large-scale modelling. Eddy covariance technique was used to measure NEE, biotic and abiotic factors for nearly 3 years in the hinterland alpine steppe—Korbresia meadow grassland on the Tibetan Plateau, the present highest fluxnet station in the world. The main objectives are to investigate dynamics of NEE and its components and to determine the major controlling factors. Maximum carbon assimilation took place in August and maximum carbon loss occurred in November. In June, rainfall amount due to monsoon climate played a great role in grass greening and consequently influenced interannual variation of ecosystem carbon gain. From July through September, monthly NEE presented net carbon assimilation. In other months, ecosystem exhibited carbon loss. In growing season, daytime NEE was mainly controlled by photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). In addition, leaf area index (LAI) interacted with PAR and together modulated NEE rates. Ecosystem respiration was controlled mainly by soil temperature and simultaneously by soil moisture. Q10 was negatively correlated with soil temperature but positively correlated with soil moisture. Large daily range of air temperature is not necessary to enhance carbon gain. Standard respiration rate at referenced 10°C (R10) was positively correlated with soil moisture, soil temperature, LAI and aboveground biomass. Rainfall patterns in growing season markedly influenced soil moisture and therefore soil moisture controlled seasonal change of ecosystem respiration. Pulse rainfall in the beginning and at the end of growing season induced great ecosystem respiration and consequently a great amount of carbon was lost. Short growing season and relative low temperature restrained alpine grass vegetation development. The results suggested that LAI be usually in a low level and carbon uptake be relatively low. Rainfall patterns in the growing season and pulse rainfall in the beginning and at end of growing season control ecosystem respiration and consequently influence carbon balance of ecosystem.