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Keywords:

  • carbon dioxide;
  • daycent;
  • global change;
  • grassland;
  • modeling;
  • nitrogen;
  • warming;
  • water

Summary

  • • 
    The Prairie Heating and CO2 Enrichment (PHACE) experiment has been initiated at a site in southern Wyoming (USA) to simulate the impact of warming and elevated atmospheric CO2 on ecosystem dynamics for semiarid grassland ecosystems.
  • • 
    The daycent ecosystem model was parametrized to simulate the impact of elevated CO2 at the open-top chamber (OTC) experiment in north-eastern Colorado (1996–2001), and was also used to simulate the projected ecosystem impact of the PHACE experiments during the next 10 yr.
  • • 
    Model results suggest that soil water content, plant production, soil respiration, and nutrient mineralization will increase for the high-CO2 treatment. Soil water content will decrease for all years, while nitrogen mineralization, soil respiration, and plant production will both decrease and increase under warming depending on yearly differences in water stress. Net primary production (NPP) will be greatest under combined warming and elevated CO2 during wet years.
  • • 
    Model results are consistent with empirical field data suggesting that water and nitrogen will be critical drivers of the semiarid grassland response to global change.