28 Nov 2023
 | 28 Nov 2023

Using Eddy Covariance Observations to Determine the Carbon Sequestration Characteristics of Subalpine Forests in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

Niu Zhu, Jinniu Wang, Dongliang Luo, Xufeng Wang, Cheng Shen, and Ning Wu

Abstract. The subalpine forests in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) act as carbon sinks in the context of climate change and ecosystem dynamics. In this study, we investigated the carbon sequestration function using the in-situ observations from an eddy covariance system for the subalpine forests. With two-year contiguous observations, the factors driving the seasonal variations in carbon sequestration potential were quantified. We first revealed the seasonal characteristics of carbon dynamics in the subalpine forests during the growing and dormant seasons, respectively. The diurnal carbon exchange exhibited significant fluctuations, as high as 10.78 μmol CO2 s-1 m-2 (12:30, autumn). The period from summer to autumn was identified as the peak in carbon sequestration rate in the subalpine forests. Subsequently, we explored the climatic factors influencing the carbon sequestration function. Photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was found to be a major climatic factor driving the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) within the same season, significantly influencing forest growth and carbon absorption. Increasing altitude negatively impacts carbon absorption at the regional scale and the rising annual temperature significantly enhances carbon uptake, while the average annual precipitation shows a minor effect on NEE. At the annual scale, the observations at the subalpine forests demonstrated a strong carbon sequestration capability, with an average NEE of 389.03 g C m-2. Furthermore, we roughly assessed the carbon sequestration status of subalpine forests in the QTP. Despite challenges caused by climate change, these forests possess enormous carbon sequestration potential. Currently, they represent the most robust carbon sequestration ecosystem in the QTP. We conclude that enhancing the protection and management of subalpine forests under future climate change scenarios will positively impact global carbon cycling and contribute to climate change mitigation. Moreover, this study provides essential insights for understanding the carbon cycling mechanism in plateau ecosystems and global carbon balance.

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Niu Zhu, Jinniu Wang, Dongliang Luo, Xufeng Wang, Cheng Shen, and Ning Wu

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comments to egusphere-2023-2669', Xuguang Tang, 20 Dec 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on CC1', Niu Zhu, 08 Jan 2024
  • CC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2669', Xuguang Tang, 20 Dec 2023
    • AC3: 'Reply on CC2', Niu Zhu, 10 Jan 2024
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2669', Haijun Peng, 22 Dec 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Niu Zhu, 08 Jan 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2669', Anonymous Referee #2, 25 Feb 2024
    • AC4: 'Reply on RC2', Niu Zhu, 24 Mar 2024
Niu Zhu, Jinniu Wang, Dongliang Luo, Xufeng Wang, Cheng Shen, and Ning Wu
Niu Zhu, Jinniu Wang, Dongliang Luo, Xufeng Wang, Cheng Shen, and Ning Wu


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Short summary
Our study delves into the vital role of subalpine forest in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as carbon sinks in the context of climate change. Utilizing advanced eddy covariance systems, we uncover their significant carbon sequestration potential, observing distinct seasonal patterns influenced by temperature, humidity, and radiation. Notably, these forest exhibit robust carbon absorption, with potential implications for global carbon balance.