Nitrogen feedbacks increase future terrestrial ecosystem carbon uptake in an individual-based dynamic vegetation model [Discussion paper]

  • Recently a considerable amount of effort has been put into quantifying how interactions of the carbon and nitrogen cycle affect future terrestrial carbon sinks. Dynamic vegetation models, representing the nitrogen cycle with varying degree of complexity, have shown diverging constraints of nitrogen dynamics on future carbon sequestration. In this study, we use the dynamic vegetation model LPJ-GUESS to evaluate how population dynamics and resource competition between plant functional types, combined with nitrogen dynamics, have influenced the terrestrial carbon storage in the past and to investigate how terrestrial carbon and nitrogen dynamics might change in the future (1850 to 2100; one exemplary "business-as-usual" climate scenario). Single factor model experiments of CO2 fertilisation and climate change show generally similar directions of the responses of C–N interactions, compared to the C-only version of the model, as documented in previous studies. Under a RCP 8.5 scenario, nitrogen limitation suppresses potential CO2 fertilisation, reducing the cumulative net ecosystem carbon uptake between 1850 and 2100 by 61%, and soil warming-induced increase in nitrogen mineralisation reduces terrestrial carbon loss by 31%. When environmental changes are considered conjointly, carbon sequestration is limited by nitrogen dynamics until present. However, during the 21st century nitrogen dynamics induce a net increase in carbon sequestration, resulting in an overall larger carbon uptake of 17% over the full period. This contradicts earlier model results that showed an 8 to 37% decrease in carbon uptake, questioning the often stated assumption that projections of future terrestrial C dynamics from C-only models are too optimistic.

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Author:David Wårlind, Benjamin Smith, Thomas HicklerORCiD, Almut Arneth
Parent Title (English):Biogeosciences discussions
Publisher:European Geosciences Union
Place of publication:Katlenburg-Lindau
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2014/01/05
Date of first Publication:2014/01/05
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2014/02/03
Page Number:18
First Page:151
Last Page:185
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geowissenschaften
Fachübergreifende Einrichtungen / Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F)
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell 3.0