Journal of Arid Land

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 488–499 | Cite as

Non-growing season soil CO2 efflux and its changes in an alpine meadow ecosystem of the Qilian Mountains, Northwest China

  • ZongQiang ChangEmail author
  • XiaoQing Liu
  • Qi Feng
  • ZongXi Che
  • HaiYang Xi
  • YongHong Su
  • JianHua Si


Most soil respiration measurements are conducted during the growing season. In tundra and boreal forest ecosystems, cumulative, non-growing season soil CO2 fluxes are reported to be a significant component of these systems’ annual carbon budgets. However, little information exists on soil CO2 efflux during the non-growing season from alpine ecosystems. Therefore, comparing measurements of soil respiration taken annually versus during the growing season will improve the accuracy of estimating ecosystem carbon budgets, as well as predicting the response of soil CO2 efflux to climate changes. In this study, we measured soil CO2 efflux and its spatial and temporal changes for different altitudes during the non-growing season in an alpine meadow located in the Qilian Mountains, Northwest China. Field experiments on the soil CO2 efflux of alpine meadow from the Qilian Mountains were conducted along an elevation gradient from October 2010 to April 2011. We measured the soil CO2 efflux, and analyzed the effects of soil water content and soil temperature on this measure. The results show that soil CO2 efflux gradually decreased along the elevation gradient during the non-growing season. The daily variation of soil CO2 efflux appeared as a single-peak curve. The soil CO2 efflux was low at night, with the lowest value occurring between 02:00–06:00. Then, values started to rise rapidly between 07:00–08:30, and then descend again between 16:00–18:30. The peak soil CO2 efflux appeared from 11:00 to 16:00. The soil CO2 efflux values gradually decreased from October to February of the next year and started to increase in March. Non-growing season Q10 (the multiplier to the respiration rate for a 10°C increase in temperature) was increased with raising altitude and average Q10 of the Qilian Mountains was generally higher than the average growing season Q10 of the Heihe River Basin. Seasonally, non-growing season soil CO2 efflux was relatively high in October and early spring and low in the winter. The soil CO2 efflux was positively correlated with soil temperature and soil water content. Our results indicate that in alpine ecosystems, soil CO2 efflux continues throughout the non-growing season, and soil respiration is an important component of annual soil CO2 efflux.


non-growing season soil CO2 efflux spatial and temporal variation alpine meadow Q10 values Qilian Mountains 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • ZongQiang Chang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • XiaoQing Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Qi Feng
    • 1
    • 2
  • ZongXi Che
    • 3
  • HaiYang Xi
    • 1
    • 2
  • YongHong Su
    • 1
    • 2
  • JianHua Si
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Alashan Desert Eco-hydrology Experimental Research Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Gansu Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering CenterLanzhouChina
  3. 3.Academy of Water Resource Conservation Forests in Qilian Mountains of Gansu ProvinceZhangyeChina

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