Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carbon Balance Of Terrestrial Ecosystems In China

May 6, 2009
Global Carbon Project
During the 1980s and 1990s, China showed a net carbon sink of 0.19–0.26 Pg carbon (PgC), which is smaller than that in the conterminous United States but comparable to that in geographic Europe. Northeast China is a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere owing to over-harvesting and degradation of forests. By contrast, southern China accounts for more than 65 per cent of the carbon sink, which can be attributed to regional climate change, large-scale plantation programs and shrub recovery.

China’s terrestrial ecosystems have absorbed 28 to 37% of its fossil fuel emissions during the 1980s and 1990s. A new study has found that terrestrial ecosystems in China are a net sink of 0.19–0.26 PgC yr-1 during the 1980s and 1990s (1 Pg C = 1015 g C). This accumulation of carbon in Chinese ecosystems is comparable to that observed in geographic Europe but smaller than that in the conterminous United States.

This carbon sink is mainly located over southern China. This region experienced regional climate change favorable to plant growth (i.e. wetter conditions) and well as large-scale reforestation and afforestation programmes since 1980s. Shrubland, an important biome in China, also appears to have accumulated carbon, as inferred by increased satellite greenness. However, this shrubland carbon sink is highly uncertain. Finally, recent trends in agricultural practice, such as a decreased export of crop residues after harvest, and an expansion of reduced and zero tillage, are also estimated to contribute carbon sequestration.

Shilong Piao from the Peking University in China brought together a team of researchers from China, France and the UK to quantify and understand the carbon balance of Chinese ecosystems from 1981 to 2000. Three independent data-streams were used.

First, a large set of ecological field sites measurements, extensive forest biomass and soil carbon surveys was combined with satellite vegetation greenness index. Second, the results from this land-based carbon accounting method were verified by atmospheric inversions that rely on measurements of CO2 concentration, models of CO2 dispersion by atmospheric winds and first-guess information about land-atmosphere fluxes. Third, five different ecosystem models integrated from wall-to-wall across the Chinese territory are used to estimate separately the potential contribution of rising CO2 concentrations and climate change to regional carbon balance.

The results of Piao and co-workers indicate that about 28 to 37% of China’s CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels from 1981 to 2000 were offset by carbon accumulation in terrestrial ecosystems. This percentage of emission sequestered is comparable to the United States (20-40%) but larger than in Europe (12%). Despite the fact that carbon sequestration induced by afforestation and vegetation restoration will be persist in the near future, the percentage of fossil fuel CO2 emissions offset by terrestrial ecosystems has declined since 2000 and may do so in the future, because of the dramatic acceleration in emissions driven by economic growth. How the tradeoff between these two factors evolves will be of great international concern as well as a big challenge for China to take actions to manage its carbon balance in the future.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Global Carbon Project. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Piao et al. The carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems in China. Nature, 2009; 458 (7241): 1009 DOI: 10.1038/nature07944

Cite This Page:

Global Carbon Project. "Carbon Balance Of Terrestrial Ecosystems In China." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501091149.htm>.
Global Carbon Project. (2009, May 6). Carbon Balance Of Terrestrial Ecosystems In China. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501091149.htm
Global Carbon Project. "Carbon Balance Of Terrestrial Ecosystems In China." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501091149.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This

More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) Iceland evacuates an area north of the country's Bardarbunga volcano, as the country's civil protection agency says it cannot rule out an eruption. Authorities have already warned airlines. As Joel Flynn reports, ash from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe's airspace for six days. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) Aluminum giant, Novelis, has partnered with Red Hare Brewing Company to introduce the first certified high-content recycled beverage can. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins