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Tian H.,Auburn University | Melillo J.,Ecosystem Center | Lu C.,Auburn University | Kicklighter D.,Ecosystem Center | And 8 more authors.
Global Biogeochemical Cycles | Year: 2011

The magnitude, spatial, and temporal patterns of the terrestrial carbon sink and the underlying mechanisms remain uncertain and need to be investigated. China is important in determining the global carbon balance in terms of both carbon emission and carbon uptake. Of particular importance to climate-change policy and carbon management is the ability to evaluate the relative contributions of multiple environmental factors to net carbon source and sink in China's terrestrial ecosystems. Here the effects of multiple environmental factors (climate, atmospheric CO2, ozone pollution, nitrogen deposition, nitrogen fertilizer application, and land cover/land use change) on net carbon balance in terrestrial ecosystems of China for the period 1961-2005 were modeled with newly developed, detailed historical information of these changes. For this period, results from two models indicated a mean land sink of 0.21 Pg C per year, with a multimodel range from 0.18 to 0.24 Pg C per year. The models' results are consistent with field observations and national inventory data and provide insights into the biogeochemical mechanisms responsible for the carbon sink in China's land ecosystems. In the simulations, nitrogen deposition and fertilizer applications together accounted for 61 percent of the net carbon storage in China's land ecosystems in recent decades, with atmospheric CO 2 increases and land use also functioning to stimulate carbon storage. The size of the modeled carbon sink over the period 1961-2005 was reduced by both ozone pollution and climate change. The modeled carbon sink in response to per unit nitrogen deposition shows a leveling off or a decline in some areas in recent years, although the nitrogen input levels have continued to increase. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union. Source

Frey S.D.,University of New Hampshire | Lee J.,One Shields Avenue | Melillo J.M.,Ecosystem Center | Six J.,One Shields Avenue | Six J.,ETH Zurich
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2013

Soils are the largest repository of organic carbon (C) in the terrestrial biosphere and represent an important source of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere, releasing 60-75 Pg C annually through microbial decomposition of organic materials. A primary control on soil CO2 flux is the efficiency with which the microbial community uses C. Despite its critical importance to soil-atmosphere CO2 exchange, relatively few studies have examined the factors controlling soil microbial efficiency. Here, we measured the temperature response of microbial efficiency in soils amended with substrates varying in lability. We also examined the temperature sensitivity of microbial efficiency in response to chronic soil warming in situ. We find that the efficiency with which soil microorganisms use organic matter is dependent on both temperature and substrate quality, with efficiency declining with increasing temperatures for more recalcitrant substrates. However, the utilization efficiency of a more recalcitrant substrate increased at higher temperatures in soils exposed to almost two decades of warming 5°C above ambient. Our work suggests that climate warming could alter the decay dynamics of more stable organic matter compounds, thereby having a positive feedback to climate that is attenuated by a shift towards a more efficient microbial community in the longer term. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source

Nelson J.A.,Florida State University | Nelson J.A.,Ecosystem Center | Stallings C.D.,Florida State University | Stallings C.D.,University of South Florida | And 2 more authors.
Ecosystems | Year: 2013

We evaluated the potential contribution of allochthonous biomass subsidies to the upper trophic levels of offshore food webs in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico (GOM). We made this evaluation considering nitrogen, an essential and often limiting nutrient in coastal ecosystems, to estimate the potential production of within-ecosystem biomass relative to the known import of biomass from an adjacent seagrass-dominated ecosystem. When adjusted for trophic transfer efficiency, we found the biomass subsidy from a single species (pinfish, Lagodon rhomboides) from nearshore seagrass habitat to the offshore GOM to be greater than the amount of nitrogen exported by two major rivers and local submarine ground water discharge. Our calculations show that seagrass-derived biomass accounts for approximately 25% of the total potential production in the northeastern GOM. This estimate is in agreement with a previous study that found 18.5-25% of the biomass in a predatory reef fish was derived from seagrass biomass inputs. These results indicate that all of the sources we consider account for the majority of the nitrogen available to the food web in the northeastern GOM. Our approach could be adapted to other coupled ecosystems to determine the relative importance of biomass subsidies to coastal ocean food webs. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York. Source

Tian H.,Auburn University | Xu X.,Auburn University | Lu C.,Auburn University | Liu M.,Auburn University | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences | Year: 2011

China's terrestrial ecosystems have been recognized as an atmospheric CO2 sink; however, it is uncertain whether this sink can alleviate global warming given the fluxes of CH4 and N2O. In this study, we used a process-based ecosystem model driven by multiple environmental factors to examine the net warming potential resulting from net exchanges of CO2, CH4, and N2O between China's terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere during 1961-2005. In the past 45 years, China's terrestrial ecosystems were found to sequestrate CO2 at a rate of 179.3 Tg C yr-1 with a 95% confidence range of (62.0 Tg C yr-1, 264.9 Tg C yr-1) while emitting CH4 and N2O at rates of 8.3 Tg C yr-1 with a 95% confidence range of (3.3 Tg C yr-1, 12.4 Tg C yr-1) and 0.6 Tg N yr -1 with a 95% confidence range of (0.2 Tg N yr-1, 1.1 Tg N yr-1), respectively. When translated into global warming potential, it is highly possible that China's terrestrial ecosystems mitigated global climate warming at a rate of 96.9 Tg CO2eq yr-1 (1 Tg = 1012 g), substantially varying from a source of 766.8 Tg CO 2eq yr-1 in 1997 to a sink of 705.2 Tg CO2eq yr-1 in 2002. The southeast and northeast of China slightly contributed to global climate warming; while the northwest, north, and southwest of China imposed cooling effects on the climate system. Paddy land, followed by natural wetland and dry cropland, was the largest contributor to national warming potential; forest, followed by woodland and grassland, played the most significant role in alleviating climate warming. Our simulated results indicate that CH4 and N2O emissions offset approximately 84.8% of terrestrial CO2 sink in China during 1961-2005. This study suggests that the relieving effects of China's terrestrial ecosystems on climate warming through sequestering CO2 might be gradually offset by increasing N2O emission, in combination with CH4 emission. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union. Source

Johnson D.R.,University of Texas at El Paso | Lara M.J.,University of Texas at El Paso | Shaver G.R.,Ecosystem Center | Batzli G.O.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Research Letters | Year: 2011

To determine the role lemmings play in structuring plant communities and their contribution to the 'greening of the Arctic', we measured plant cover and biomass in 50 + year old lemming exclosures and control plots in the coastal tundra near Barrow, Alaska. The response of plant functional types to herbivore exclusion varied among land cover types. In general, the abundance of lichens and bryophytes increased with the exclusion of lemmings, whereas graminoids decreased, although the magnitude of these responses varied among land cover types. These results suggest that sustained lemming activity promotes a higher biomass of vascular plant functional types than would be expected without their presence and highlights the importance of considering herbivory when interpreting patterns of greening in the Arctic. In light of the rapid environmental change ongoing in the Arctic and the potential regional to global implications of this change, further exploration regarding the long-term influence of arvicoline rodents on ecosystem function (e.g.carbon and energy balance) should be considered a research priority. © 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd. Source

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