Get access

Temperature and biomass influences on interannual changes in CO2 exchange in an alpine meadow on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau


Tomomichi Kato, Ecosystem Change Research Program, Frontier Research Center for Global Change, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 3173-25 Showa-machi, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-0001, Japan, tel. +81 45 778 5667, fax +81 45 778 5706, e-mail:


Three years of eddy covariance measurements were used to characterize the seasonal and interannual variability of the CO2 fluxes above an alpine meadow (3250 m a.s.l.) on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China. This alpine meadow was a weak sink for atmospheric CO2, with a net ecosystem production (NEP) of 78.5, 91.7, and 192.5 g C m−2 yr−1 in 2002, 2003, and 2004, respectively. The prominent, high NEP in 2004 resulted from the combination of high gross primary production (GPP) and low ecosystem respiration (Re) during the growing season. The period of net absorption of CO2 in 2004, 179 days, was 10 days longer than that in 2002 and 5 days longer than that in 2003. Moreover, the date on which the mean air temperature first exceeded 5.0°C was 10 days earlier in 2004 (DOY110) than in 2002 or 2003. This date agrees well with that on which the green aboveground biomass (Green AGB) started to increase. The relationship between light-use efficiency and Green AGB was similar among the three years. In 2002, however, earlier senescence possibly caused low autumn GPP, and thus the annual NEP, to be lower. The low summertime Re in 2004 was apparently caused by lower soil temperatures and the relatively lower temperature dependence of Re in comparison with the other years. These results suggest that (1) the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau plays a potentially significant role in global carbon sequestration, because alpine meadow covers about one-third of this vast plateau, and (2) the annual NEP in the alpine meadow was comprehensively controlled by the temperature environment, including its effect on biomass growth.