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Methane uptake in global forest and grassland soils from 1981 to 2010

Yu, Lijun, Huang, Yao, Zhang, Wen, Li, Tingting, Sun, Wenjuan
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.607-608 pp. 1163-1172
climate change, ecosystems, grassland soils, grasslands, greenhouse gases, methane, models, temperature, tropical forests
Methane (CH4) is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Although forest and grassland soils generally consume atmospheric CH4, the quantities and spatiotemporal changes in CH4 uptake remain largely uncertain for these ecosystems at the global scale. In this study, we developed an empirical model to estimate the CH4 uptake in global forest and grassland soils during the period 1981–2010. We estimated that the mean values of CH4 uptake were 9.16 (± 3.84) Tg yr⁻¹ in forest soils and 3.73 (± 1.41) Tg yr⁻¹ in grassland soils during the study period. Tropical forest and grassland soils were determined to be the largest CH4 sink, contributing 58% to the global total. During the 30-year period, the CH4 uptake in cool temperate dry and warm temperate dry soils and in polar/boreal grassland soils increased significantly (P<0.05) at rates of 0.30–2.95Ggyr⁻¹ owing mainly to increases in mean temperatures. However, the uptake decreased significantly (P<0.01) in tropical dry grassland soils, at 1.22Ggyr⁻¹, owing mainly to increases in precipitation. Ultimately, our simulation indicated that the global CH4 uptake by forest and grassland soils increased significantly (P<0.05) at rates of 4.67Ggyr⁻¹ and 2.98Ggyr⁻¹, respectively, during the period 1981–2010. The trend of increasing sinks from forest and grassland and its relationship with temperature and precipitation variability imply that forest and grassland CH4 sinks will play a positive role in climate change mitigation in the future.