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      Temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition and feedbacks to climate change

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      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Significantly more carbon is stored in the world's soils--including peatlands, wetlands and permafrost--than is present in the atmosphere. Disagreement exists, however, regarding the effects of climate change on global soil carbon stocks. If carbon stored belowground is transferred to the atmosphere by a warming-induced acceleration of its decomposition, a positive feedback to climate change would occur. Conversely, if increases of plant-derived carbon inputs to soils exceed increases in decomposition, the feedback would be negative. Despite much research, a consensus has not yet emerged on the temperature sensitivity of soil carbon decomposition. Unravelling the feedback effect is particularly difficult, because the diverse soil organic compounds exhibit a wide range of kinetic properties, which determine the intrinsic temperature sensitivity of their decomposition. Moreover, several environmental constraints obscure the intrinsic temperature sensitivity of substrate decomposition, causing lower observed 'apparent' temperature sensitivity, and these constraints may, themselves, be sensitive to climate.

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          Most cited references71

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          A biochemical model of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation in leaves of C 3 species.

          Various aspects of the biochemistry of photosynthetic carbon assimilation in C3 plants are integrated into a form compatible with studies of gas exchange in leaves. These aspects include the kinetic properties of ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase; the requirements of the photosynthetic carbon reduction and photorespiratory carbon oxidation cycles for reduced pyridine nucleotides; the dependence of electron transport on photon flux and the presence of a temperature dependent upper limit to electron transport. The measurements of gas exchange with which the model outputs may be compared include those of the temperature and partial pressure of CO2(p(CO2)) dependencies of quantum yield, the variation of compensation point with temperature and partial pressure of O2(p(O2)), the dependence of net CO2 assimilation rate on p(CO2) and irradiance, and the influence of p(CO2) and irradiance on the temperature dependence of assimilation rate.
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            Nitrogen and Lignin Control of Hardwood Leaf Litter Decomposition Dynamics

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              A meta-analysis of the response of soil respiration, net nitrogen mineralization, and aboveground plant growth to experimental ecosystem warming

              Climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions is predicted to raise the mean global temperature by 1.0-3.5°C in the next 50-100 years. The direct and indirect effects of this potential increase in temperature on terrestrial ecosystems and ecosystem processes are likely to be complex and highly varied in time and space. The Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme has recently launched a Network of Ecosystem Warming Studies, the goals of which are to integrate and foster research on ecosystem-level effects of rising temperature. In this paper, we use meta-analysis to synthesize data on the response of soil respiration, net N mineralization, and aboveground plant productivity to experimental ecosystem warming at 32 research sites representing four broadly defined biomes, including high (latitude or altitude) tundra, low tundra, grassland, and forest. Warming methods included electrical heat-resistance ground cables, greenhouses, vented and unvented field chambers, overhead infrared lamps, and passive night-time warming. Although results from individual sites showed considerable variation in response to warming, results from the meta-analysis showed that, across all sites and years, 2-9 years of experimental warming in the range 0.3-6.0°C significantly increased soil respiration rates by 20% (with a 95% confidence interval of 18-22%), net N mineralization rates by 46% (with a 95% confidence interval of 30-64%), and plant productivity by 19% (with a 95% confidence interval of 15-23%). The response of soil respiration to warming was generally larger in forested ecosystems compared to low tundra and grassland ecosystems, and the response of plant productivity was generally larger in low tundra ecosystems than in forest and grassland ecosystems. With the exception of aboveground plant productivity, which showed a greater positive response to warming in colder ecosystems, the magnitude of the response of these three processes to experimental warming was not generally significantly related to the geographic, climatic, or environmental variables evaluated in this analysis. This underscores the need to understand the relative importance of specific factors (such as temperature, moisture, site quality, vegetation type, successional status, land-use history, etc.) at different spatial and temporal scales, and suggests that we should be cautious in "scaling up" responses from the plot and site level to the landscape and biome level. Overall, ecosystem-warming experiments are shown to provide valuable insights on the response of terrestrial ecosystems to elevated temperature.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                March 2006
                March 2006
                : 440
                : 7081
                : 165-173
                Article
                10.1038/nature04514
                16525463
                73ce6c71-ff3a-4e21-a9f6-cbcda22e3ff3
                © 2006

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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