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Characterizing the dynamics of soil organic carbon in grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Abstract

Carbon dynamics of grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau may play an important role in regional and global carbon cycles. The CENTURY model (Version 4.5) is used to examine temporal and spatial variations of soil organic carbon (SOC) in grasslands on the Plateau for the period from 1960 to 2002. The model successfully simulates the dynamics of aboveground carbon and soil surface SOC at the soil depth of 0–20 cm and the simulated results agree well to the measurements. Examination of SOC for eight typical grasslands shows different patterns of temporal variation in different ecosystems in 1960–2002. The extent of temporal variation increases with the increase of SOC of ecosystem. SOC increases first and decreases quickly then during the period from 1990 to 2000. Spatially, SOC density obtained for the equilibrium condition declines gradually from the southeast to the northwest on the plateau and showed a high heterogeneity in the eastern plateau. The results suggest that (i) SOC density in the alpine grasslands shows remarkable response to climate change during the 42 years, and (ii) the net carbon exchange rate between the alpine grassland ecosystems and the atmosphere increases from 1990 to 2000 as compared with that before 1990.

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Correspondence to Zhang YongQiang.

Additional information

Supported by the Global Environmental Research Program of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (Grant No. S1) and by an Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. KZCWX3-SW-446)

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Zhang, Y., Tang, Y., Jiang, J. et al. Characterizing the dynamics of soil organic carbon in grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. SCI CHINA SER D 50, 113–120 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-007-2032-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-007-2032-2

Keywords

  • carbon cycle
  • CENTURY model
  • climate change
  • global warming
  • soil organic carbon