Responses of greenhouse gas fluxes to climate extremes in a semiarid grassland

Linfeng Li, Wenyu Fan, Xiaoming Kang, Yanfen Wang, Xiaoyong Cui, Chengyuan Xu, Kevin L. Griffin, Yanbin Hao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate extremes are expected to increase in frequency and intensity as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change attributed to the rise of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs). However, studies on the impacts of climate extremes on terrestrial ecosystems are limited. Here, we experimentally imposed extreme drought and a heat wave (∼60-year recurrence) to investigate their effects on GHGs fluxes of a semiarid grassland in China. We estimated a 16% and 38% percent reduction in net ecosystem CO2 uptake caused by the heat wave and drought respectively, but via different mechanisms. Drought reduced gross ecosystem productively (GEP) and to a lower extent ecosystem respiration (ER). By contrast, the simulated heat wave suppressed only GEP while ER remained stable. The climate extremes also created a legacy effect on GEP and NEE lasting until the end of the growing season, whereas ER recovered immediately. Although CH4 and N2O fluxes were unaffected by the heat wave, drought promoted CH4 uptake and suppressed N2O emission during the treatment period. The effect of drought on GHGs fluxes generally overwhelmed that of the heat wave treatment, and there were no interactive effects of these two types of climate extremes. Our results showed that responses of ecosystem GHGs exchange to climate extremes are strongly regulated by soil moisture status. In conclusion, future amplification of climate extremes could decrease the sink for GHGs, especially CO2, in this semiarid grasslands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-42
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


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