J Plant Ecol ›› 2015, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (3): 291-302.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtu026

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Lagged climatic effects on carbon fluxes over three grassland ecosystems in China

Tao Zhang1,2, Mingjie Xu1,2, Yi Xi1,2, Juntao Zhu1, Li Tian1, Xianzhou Zhang1, Yanfen Wang2, Yingnian Li3, Peili Shi1, Guirui Yu1, Xiaomin Sun1 and Yangjian Zhang1,*   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; 2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China; 3 Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810001, China
  • Received:2014-01-24 Accepted:2014-10-11 Published:2015-05-20
  • Contact: Zhang, Yangjian

Abstract: Aims The plasticity of ecosystem responses could buffer and postpone the effects of climates on ecosystem carbon fluxes, but this lagged effect is often ignored. In this study, we used carbon flux data collected from three typical grassland ecosystems in China, including a temperate semiarid steppe in Inner Mongolia (Neimeng site, NM), an alpine shrub-meadow in Qinghai (Haibei site, HB) and an alpine meadow steppe in Tibet (Dangxiong site, DX), to examine the time lagged effects of environmental factors on CO2 exchange.
Methods Eddy covariance data were collected from three typical Chinese grasslands. In linking carbon fluxes with climatic factors, we used their averages or cumulative values within each 12-month period and we called them 'yearly' statistics in this study. To investigate the lagged effects of the climatic factors on the carbon fluxes, the climatic 'yearly' statistics were kept still and the 'yearly' statistics of the carbon fluxes were shifted backward 1 month at a time.
Important findings Soil moisture and precipitation was the main factor driving the annual variations of carbon fluxes at the alpine HB and DX, respectively, while the NM site was under a synthetic impact of each climatic factor. The time lagged effect analysis showed that temperature had several months, even half a year lag effects on CO2 exchange at the three studied sites, while moisture's effects were mostly exhibited as an immediate manner, except at NM. In general, the lagged climatic effects were relatively weak for the alpine ecosystem. Our results implied that it might be months or even 1 year before the variations of ecosystem carbon fluxes are adjusted to the current climate, so such lag effects could be resistant to more frequent climate extremes and should be a critical component to be considered in evaluating ecosystem stability. An improved knowledge on the lag effects could advance our understanding on the driving mechanisms of climate change effects on ecosystem carbon fluxes.

Key words: climate change, carbon flux, direct effect, grasslands, lagged effect

摘要:
Aims The plasticity of ecosystem responses could buffer and postpone the effects of climates on ecosystem carbon fluxes, but this lagged effect is often ignored. In this study, we used carbon flux data collected from three typical grassland ecosystems in China, including a temperate semiarid steppe in Inner Mongolia (Neimeng site, NM), an alpine shrub-meadow in Qinghai (Haibei site, HB) and an alpine meadow steppe in Tibet (Dangxiong site, DX), to examine the time lagged effects of environmental factors on CO2 exchange.
Methods Eddy covariance data were collected from three typical Chinese grasslands. In linking carbon fluxes with climatic factors, we used their averages or cumulative values within each 12-month period and we called them 'yearly' statistics in this study. To investigate the lagged effects of the climatic factors on the carbon fluxes, the climatic 'yearly' statistics were kept still and the 'yearly' statistics of the carbon fluxes were shifted backward 1 month at a time.
Important findings Soil moisture and precipitation was the main factor driving the annual variations of carbon fluxes at the alpine HB and DX, respectively, while the NM site was under a synthetic impact of each climatic factor. The time lagged effect analysis showed that temperature had several months, even half a year lag effects on CO2 exchange at the three studied sites, while moisture's effects were mostly exhibited as an immediate manner, except at NM. In general, the lagged climatic effects were relatively weak for the alpine ecosystem. Our results implied that it might be months or even 1 year before the variations of ecosystem carbon fluxes are adjusted to the current climate, so such lag effects could be resistant to more frequent climate extremes and should be a critical component to be considered in evaluating ecosystem stability. An improved knowledge on the lag effects could advance our understanding on the driving mechanisms of climate change effects on ecosystem carbon fluxes.