Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Biogeosciences, 8, 2009-2025, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
25 Jul 2011
Controls on winter ecosystem respiration in temperate and boreal ecosystems
T. Wang1, P. Ciais1, S. L. Piao2, C. Ottlé1, P. Brender1, F. Maignan1, A. Arain3, A. Cescatti4, D. Gianelle5, C. Gough6, L. Gu7, P. Lafleur8, T. Laurila9, B. Marcolla10, H. Margolis11, L. Montagnani12,13, E. Moors14, N. Saigusa15, T. Vesala16, G. Wohlfahrt17, C. Koven18, A. Black19, E. Dellwik20, A. Don21, D. Hollinger22, A. Knohl23, R. Monson24, J. Munger25, A. Suyker26, A. Varlagin27, and S. Verma26 1LSCE/IPSL, UMR8212, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ – Unité Mixte de Recherche, CE L'Orme des Merisiers, Gif-sur-Yvette 91191, France
2Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Science, and Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
3School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, L8S 4K1, Canada
4Climate Change Unit, Inst. for Environment and Sustainability, European Commission, DG joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy
5IASMA, Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Viote del Monte Bondone, Trento, 38040, Italy
6Deparment of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University, P.O. Box 842012, 1000 West Cary St. Richmond, VA 23284-2012, USA
7Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA
8Department of Geography, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7B8, Canada
9Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
10Edmund Mach Foundation, Research and Innovation Center, 38010 S. Michele all' Adige, Trento, Italy
11Centre d'Étude de la Foret, Faculté de Foresterie, de Géographie et de Géomatique, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6, Canada
12Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Forest Services and Agency for the Environment, Bolzano, Italy
13Free University of Bolzano, Faculty of Science and Technology, Bolzano, Italy
14Alterra Wageningen UR, Wageningen, 6700 AA, The Netherlands
15Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba 305-8506, Japan
16Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 48, 00014, Finland
17University of Innsbruck, Institute of Ecology Sternwartestrasse 15, Innsbruck 6020, Austria
18Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley 94720, CA, USA
19Faculty of Land and Food systems, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada
20Wind Energy Division, Risoe National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Technical University of Denmark, P.O. Box 49, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
21Johann Heinrich von Thünen Inst., Inst. of Agricultural Climate Research, Bundesallee 50, 38116 Braunschweig, Germany
22Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 271 Mast Rd, Durham, NH 03824, USA
23Chair of Bioclimatology, Büsgen Institute, Georg-August University of Göttingen, Germany
24Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
25Division of Engineering and Applied Science, Deptment of Earth and Planetary Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
26School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA
27A. N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russia Academy of Sciences, Leninsky Prospect 33, Moscow, 117071, Russia
Abstract. Winter CO2 fluxes represent an important component of the annual carbon budget in northern ecosystems. Understanding winter respiration processes and their responses to climate change is also central to our ability to assess terrestrial carbon cycle and climate feedbacks in the future. However, the factors influencing the spatial and temporal patterns of winter ecosystem respiration (Reco) of northern ecosystems are poorly understood. For this reason, we analyzed eddy covariance flux data from 57 ecosystem sites ranging from ~35° N to ~70° N. Deciduous forests were characterized by the highest winter Reco rates (0.90 ± 0.39 g C m−2 d−1), when winter is defined as the period during which daily air temperature remains below 0 °C. By contrast, arctic wetlands had the lowest winter Reco rates (0.02 ± 0.02 g C m−2 d−1). Mixed forests, evergreen needle-leaved forests, grasslands, croplands and boreal wetlands were characterized by intermediate winter Reco rates (g C m−2 d−1) of 0.70(±0.33), 0.60(±0.38), 0.62(±0.43), 0.49(±0.22) and 0.27(±0.08), respectively. Our cross site analysis showed that winter air (Tair) and soil (Tsoil) temperature played a dominating role in determining the spatial patterns of winter Reco in both forest and managed ecosystems (grasslands and croplands). Besides temperature, the seasonal amplitude of the leaf area index (LAI), inferred from satellite observation, or growing season gross primary productivity, which we use here as a proxy for the amount of recent carbon available for Reco in the subsequent winter, played a marginal role in winter CO2 emissions from forest ecosystems. We found that winter Reco sensitivity to temperature variation across space (QS) was higher than the one over time (interannual, QT). This can be expected because QS not only accounts for climate gradients across sites but also for (positively correlated) the spatial variability of substrate quantity. Thus, if the models estimate future warming impacts on Reco based on QS rather than QT, this could overestimate the impact of temperature changes.

Citation: Wang, T., Ciais, P., Piao, S. L., Ottlé, C., Brender, P., Maignan, F., Arain, A., Cescatti, A., Gianelle, D., Gough, C., Gu, L., Lafleur, P., Laurila, T., Marcolla, B., Margolis, H., Montagnani, L., Moors, E., Saigusa, N., Vesala, T., Wohlfahrt, G., Koven, C., Black, A., Dellwik, E., Don, A., Hollinger, D., Knohl, A., Monson, R., Munger, J., Suyker, A., Varlagin, A., and Verma, S.: Controls on winter ecosystem respiration in temperate and boreal ecosystems, Biogeosciences, 8, 2009-2025,, 2011.
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