Climatic Change

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 13–25 | Cite as

Grassland biogeochemistry: Links to atmospheric processes

  • D. S. Schimel
  • W. J. Parton
  • T. G. F. Kittel
  • D. S. Ojima
  • C. V. Cole


Regional modeling is an essential step in scaling plot measurements of biogeochemical cycling to global scales for use in coupled atmosphere-biosphere studies. We present a model of carbon and nitrogen biogeochemistry for the U.S. Central Grasslands region based on laboratory, field, and modeling studies. Model simulations of the geography of C and N biogeochemistry adequately fit observed data. Model results show geographic patterns of cycling rates and element storage to be a complex function of the interaction of climatic and soil properties. The model also includes regional trace gas simulation, providing a link between studies of atmospheric geochemistry and ecosystem function. The model simulates nitrogenous trace gas emission rates as a function of N turnover and indicates that they are variable across the grasslands. We studied effects of changing climate using information from a global climate model. Simulations showed that increases in temperature and associated changes in precipitation caused increases in decomposition and long-term emission of Co2 from grassland soils. Nutrient release associated with the loss of soil organic matter caused increases in net primary production, demonstrating that nutrient interactions are a major control over vegetation response to climate change.


Global Climate Model Grassland Soil Cycling Rate Element Storage Nutrient Interaction 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. S. Schimel
    • 1
  • W. J. Parton
    • 2
  • T. G. F. Kittel
    • 3
  • D. S. Ojima
    • 4
  • C. V. Cole
    • 5
  1. 1.NASA Ames Research CenterMoffett FieldU.S.A.
  2. 2.Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsU.S.A.
  3. 3.Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsU.S.A.
  4. 4.Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsU.S.A.
  5. 5.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service and Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State UniversityFort CollinsU.S.A.

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