Climatic Change

, Volume 119, Issue 3–4, pp 905–917 | Cite as

Carbon storage in Chinese terrestrial ecosystems: approaching a more accurate estimate



China is an important region for the global study of carbon because of its vast territory with various climate regimes, diverse ecosystems, and long-term human disturbances and land-use history. Carbon storage in ecosystems in China has been estimated using inventory and modeling methods in the past two decades. However, different methods may result in varied magnitudes and forms of carbon storage. In this study, the current status of carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems in China, including the impacts of land use, is summarized in the national, regional, and biome scales. Significant differences in data have existed among studies. Such differences are mainly attributed to variations in estimation methods, data availability, and periods. According to available national-scale information on Chinese terrestrial ecosystems, vegetation carbon in China is 6.1 Pg C to 76.2 Pg C (mean 36.98 Pg C) and soil carbon is 43.6 Pg C to 185.7 Pg C (mean 100.75 Pg C). The forest sector has vegetation carbon of 3.26 Pg C to 9.11 Pg C (mean 5.49 Pg C), whereas the grassland sector has 0.13 Pg C to 3.06 Pg C (mean 1.41 Pg C). Soil carbon in the forest and grassland sectors exhibits more significant regional variations. Further studies need a comprehensive methodology, which combines national inventory, field measurement, eddy covariance technique, remote sensing, and model simulation in a single framework, as well as all available data at different temporal and spatial scales, to fully account for the carbon budget in China.


Soil Organic Carbon Soil Carbon Carbon Storage Carbon Budget Carbon Density 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was funded by the National Basic Research Program of China (2013CB956704) and the Hundred Talents Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The author is thankful to Professor Jingyun Fang and the three reviewers for their helpful comments on the early version of this manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of GeochemistryChinese Academy of SciencesGuiyangChina

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