Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Biogeosciences, 9, 3571-3586, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
07 Sep 2012
The carbon budget of terrestrial ecosystems in East Asia over the last two decades
S. L. Piao1,2, A. Ito3, S. G. Li4, Y. Huang5, P. Ciais6, X. H. Wang1, S. S. Peng1, H. J. Nan1, C. Zhao1, A. Ahlström7, R. J. Andres8, F. Chevallier6, J. Y. Fang1,5, J. Hartmann9, C. Huntingford10, S. Jeong11, S. Levis12, P. E. Levy13, J. S. Li14, M. R. Lomas15, J. F. Mao8, E. Mayorga16, A. Mohammat17, H. Muraoka18, C. H. Peng19,20, P. Peylin6, B. Poulter6, Z. H. Shen1, X. Shi8, S. Sitch21, S. Tao1, H. Q. Tian22, X. P. Wu14, M. Xu4, G. R. Yu4, N. Viovy6, S. Zaehle23, N. Zeng24, and B. Zhu25 1Sino-French Institute for Earth System Science, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University,
Beijing 100871, China
2Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China
3Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan
4Institute of Geographic Science and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
5Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiangshan, Beijing 100093, China
6Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, CEA CNRS UVSQ, 91191 Gif sur Yvette, France
7Department of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
8Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6290, USA
9Institute for Biogeochemistry and Marine Chemistry, Klimacampus, Universität Hamburg, Bundesstrasse 55,
20146 Hamburg, Germany
10Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Benson Lane, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
11Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
12National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
13Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB, UK
14Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012, China
15Department of Animal & Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
16Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
17Xinjiang institute of ecology and geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
18River Basin Research Center, Gifu University, Gifu 501-1193, Japan
19Laboratory for Ecological Forecasting and Global Change, College of Forestry, Northwest A & F University, Yangling, Shaanxi 712100, China
20Department of Biology Sciences, Institute of Environment Sciences, University of Quebec, Montreal, Canada
21School of Geography, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QF, UK
22Ecosystem Dynamics and Global Ecology Laboratory, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn 36849, USA
23Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, P.O. Box 10 01 64, 07701 Jena, Germany
24Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, USA
25Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Abstract. This REgional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes regional study provides a synthesis of the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems in East Asia, a region comprised of China, Japan, North and South Korea, and Mongolia. We estimate the current terrestrial carbon balance of East Asia and its driving mechanisms during 1990–2009 using three different approaches: inventories combined with satellite greenness measurements, terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycle models and atmospheric inversion models. The magnitudes of East Asia's terrestrial carbon sink from these three approaches are comparable: −0.293±0.033 PgC yr−1 from inventory–remote sensing model–data fusion approach, −0.413±0.141 PgC yr−1 (not considering biofuel emissions) or −0.224±0.141 PgC yr−1 (considering biofuel emissions) for carbon cycle models, and −0.270±0.507 PgC yr−1 for atmospheric inverse models. Here and in the following, the numbers behind ± signs are standard deviations. The ensemble of ecosystem modeling based analyses further suggests that at the regional scale, climate change and rising atmospheric CO2 together resulted in a carbon sink of −0.289±0.135 PgC yr−1, while land-use change and nitrogen deposition had a contribution of −0.013±0.029 PgC yr−1 and −0.107±0.025 PgC yr−1, respectively. Although the magnitude of climate change effects on the carbon balance varies among different models, all models agree that in response to climate change alone, southern China experienced an increase in carbon storage from 1990 to 2009, while northern East Asia including Mongolia and north China showed a decrease in carbon storage. Overall, our results suggest that about 13–27% of East Asia's CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning have been offset by carbon accumulation in its terrestrial territory over the period from 1990 to 2009. The underlying mechanisms of carbon sink over East Asia still remain largely uncertain, given the diversity and intensity of land management processes, and the regional conjunction of many drivers such as nutrient deposition, climate, atmospheric pollution and CO2 changes, which cannot be considered as independent for their effects on carbon storage.

Citation: Piao, S. L., Ito, A., Li, S. G., Huang, Y., Ciais, P., Wang, X. H., Peng, S. S., Nan, H. J., Zhao, C., Ahlström, A., Andres, R. J., Chevallier, F., Fang, J. Y., Hartmann, J., Huntingford, C., Jeong, S., Levis, S., Levy, P. E., Li, J. S., Lomas, M. R., Mao, J. F., Mayorga, E., Mohammat, A., Muraoka, H., Peng, C. H., Peylin, P., Poulter, B., Shen, Z. H., Shi, X., Sitch, S., Tao, S., Tian, H. Q., Wu, X. P., Xu, M., Yu, G. R., Viovy, N., Zaehle, S., Zeng, N., and Zhu, B.: The carbon budget of terrestrial ecosystems in East Asia over the last two decades, Biogeosciences, 9, 3571-3586, doi:10.5194/bg-9-3571-2012, 2012.
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