Climatic Change

, Volume 117, Issue 1–2, pp 259–272 | Cite as

Sensitivity of carbon budget to historical climate variability and atmospheric CO2 concentration in temperate grassland ecosystems in China

  • Xinghua Sui
  • Guangsheng Zhou
  • Qianlai Zhuang


Chinese temperate grasslands play an important role in the terrestrial carbon cycle. Based on the parameterization and validation of Terrestrial Ecosystem Model (TEM, Version 5.0), we analyzed the carbon budgets of Chinese temperate grasslands and their responses to historical atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate variability during 1951–2007. The results indicated that Chinese temperate grassland acted as a slight carbon sink with annual mean value of 7.3 T g C, ranging from -80.5 to 79.6 T g C yr-1. Our sensitivity experiments further revealed that precipitation variability was the primary factor for decreasing carbon storage. CO2 fertilization may increase the carbon storage (1.4 %) but cannot offset the proportion caused by climate variability (-15.3 %). Impacts of CO2 concentration, temperature and precipitation variability on Chinese temperate grassland cannot be simply explained by the sum of the individual effects. Interactions among them increased total carbon storage of 56.6 T g C which 14.2 T g C was stored in vegetation and 42.4 T g C was stored in soil. Besides, different grassland types had different responses to climate change and CO2 concentration. NPP and RH of the desert and forest steppes were more sensitive to precipitation variability than temperature variability while the typical steppe responded to temperature variability more sensitively than the desert and forest steppes.


Soil Organic Carbon Carbon Budget Carbon Sink Soil Organic Carbon Stock Precipitation Variability 
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 jointly supported by State Key Development Program of Basic Research (2010CB951303), Strategic Priority Research Program - Climate Change: Carbon Budget and Related Issues of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA05050408) and China National Natural Science Foundation (No. 90711001).

Supplementary material

10584_2012_533_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (539 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 539 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xinghua Sui
    • 1
    • 4
  • Guangsheng Zhou
    • 2
    • 1
  • Qianlai Zhuang
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Chinese Academy of Meteorological SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Department of AgronomyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  4. 4.Graduate School of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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