Seasonal and interannual variability of carbon dioxide and water balances of a grassland
There is great international concern over the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide and its effect on vegetation and climate, and vice versa. Many studies on this issue are based on climate model calculations or indirect satellite observations. In contrast we present a 12-year study (1994–2005) on the net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide (NEE) and precipitation surplus (i.e., precipitation–evaporation) of a grassland area in the centre of the Netherlands. On basis of direct flux observations and a process-based model we study and quantify the carbon uptake via assimilation and carbon release via soil and plant respiration. It appears that nearly year-round the assimilation term dominates, which indicates an accumulation of carbon dioxide. The mean net carbon uptake for the 12-year period is about 3 tonnes C per hectare, but with a strong seasonal and interannual variability depending on the weather and water budget. This variability may severely hamper the accurate quantification of carbon storage by vegetation in our present climates and its projection for future climates.