Net exchanges of CO2, CH4, and N2O between China's terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere and their contributions to global climate warming

Hanqin Tian, Xiaofeng Xu, Chaoqun Lu, Mingliang Liu, Wei Ren, Guangsheng Chen, Jerry Melillo, Jiyuan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberG02011
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Volume116
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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