Get access

Climate-driven global changes in carbon use efficiency

Authors

  • Yangjian Zhang,

    Corresponding author
    1. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    • Correspondence: Yangjian Zhang, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 11A Datun road, Beijing, Beijing 100101, China.

      E-mail: zhangyj@igsnrr.ac.cn

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Guirui Yu,

    1. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jian Yang,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Michael C. Wimberly,

    1. Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • XianZhou Zhang,

    1. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jian Tao,

    1. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Yanbin Jiang,

    1. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Juntao Zhu

    1. Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Editor: Martin Sykes

Abstract

Aim

Carbon use efficiency [net primary production (NPP)/gross primary production (GPP) ratio] is a parameter related to the allocation of photosynthesized products by plants and is commonly used in many biogeochemical cycling models. But how this parameter changes with climates is still unknown. Faced by an aggravated global warming, there is a heightened necessity in unravelling the dependence of the NPP/GPP ratio on climates. The objective of this study was to examine how ongoing climate change is regulating global patterns of change in the NPP/GPP ratio. The study finding would elucidate whether the global vegetation ecosystem is becoming more or less efficient in terms of carbon storage under climatic fluctuation.

Location

The global planetary ecosystem.

Methods

The annual NPP/GPP ratio of the global terrestrial ecosystem was calculated over a 10-year period based on Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer data and an ecosystem productivity model. The temporal dynamics of the global NPP/GPP ratio and their dependence on climate were investigated.

Results

The global NPP/GPP ratio exhibited a decreasing trend from 2000 to 2009 due to decreasing NPP and stable GPP over this period. The temporal dynamics of the NPP/GPP ratio were strongly controlled by temperature and precipitation. Increased temperature lowered the NPP/GPP ratio, and increased precipitation led to a higher NPP/GPP ratio.

Conclusions

The NPP/GPP ratio exhibits a clear temporal pattern associated with climatic fluctuations at a global scale. The associations of the NPP/GPP ratio with climatic variability challenge the conventional assumption that the NPP/GPP ratio should be consistent independent of environmental conditions. More importantly, the findings of this study have fundamental significance for our understanding of ongoing global climatic change. In regions and time periods experiencing drought or increased temperatures, plant ecosystems would suffer a higher ecosystem respiration cost and their net productivity would shrink.

Ancillary