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Combined effects of temperature and precipitation on soil organic carbon changes in the uplands of eastern China

Zhang, Liming, Zheng, Qiaofeng, Liu, Yaling, Liu, Shaogui, Yu, Dongsheng, Shi, Xuezheng, Xing, Shihe, Chen, Hanyue, Fan, Xieyu
Geoderma 2019 v.337 pp. 1105-1115
agroecosystems, air temperature, animal manures, application rate, carbon dioxide, carbon sequestration, climate change, data collection, databases, highlands, mineral fertilizers, physicochemical properties, simulation models, soil heterogeneity, soil organic carbon, upland soils, China
Temperature and precipitation simultaneously influence the soil organic carbon (SOC) in agroecosystems. While these parameters' individual impacts have been extensively studied, their combined effects remain poorly understood at a regional scale. Thus we conducted this study to quantify the combined influence of temperature and precipitation on the SOC in upland-crop fields of the northern Jiangsu Province in eastern China. This quantification was achieved by using the DeNitrification-DeComposition (DNDC, version 9.5) model with the most detailed upland soil database in China. The model simulations indicated that under a scenario where the air temperature (T) increased by 2 °C (T2) and the precipitation (Prec) simultaneously decreased by 20%, the upland soils in the study region were estimated to a sequestered 39.10 Tg C from 2010 to 2039. Meanwhile, a scenario with T2 and a simultaneous increase in Prec by 20% led to a lower C sequestration of 37.39 Tg C. We found that the respective C sequestration from the combined effects of T and Prec in the above two scenarios was 1.24 (or 2.12) Tg C less compared to the sum of their individual effects. Moreover, if the increase of T changed from 2 °C to 4 °C, and the Prec continued to decrease (or increase) by 20%, the C sequestration was 34.69 (or 33.64) Tg C, which was 3.60 (or 3.82) Tg C lower than the sum of the individual effects. Our analysis of the combined effects of T and Prec on the SOC changes suggested that future warming and Prec changes in this region may cause a decrease in the SOC sequestration, but the upland agroecosystems will still serve as a long-term sink for atmospheric CO2 due to the high application rates of chemical fertilizer and farmyard manure. Furthermore, the separate and combined effects of temperature and precipitation on the SOC changes in the different upland soil groups varied widely due to the heterogeneity of soil properties, physicochemical conditions and fertilizer practices. This result emphasized the importance of using fine scale soil datasets and the need to understand the intricacies in the soil carbon sequestration potential at a regional scale in a changing climate.