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Winter daytime warming and shift in summer monsoon increase plant cover and net CO2 uptake in a central Tibetan alpine steppe ecosystem
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  • Felix Nieberding,
  • Christian Wille,
  • Yaoming Ma,
  • Yuyang Wang,
  • Philipp Maurischat,
  • Lukas Lehnert,
  • Torsten Sachs
Felix Nieberding
Technische Universit├Ąt Braunschweig
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Christian Wille
Deutsches Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Yaoming Ma
Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Yuyang Wang
Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Philipp Maurischat
Institute of Soil Science, Leibniz Universit├Ąt Hannover
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Lukas Lehnert
Department of Geography
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Torsten Sachs
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
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Abstract

Over the past decades, human-induced climate change has led to a widespread wetting and warming of the Tibetan Plateau, affecting both ecosystems and the carbon cycling therein. Whether the observed climate changes stimulate carbon uptake via enhanced photosynthesis or carbon loss via enhanced soil respiration remains unclear. Here we present long term observations of carbon fluxes, meteorological variables and remotely sensed plant cover estimations from a central Tibetan alpine steppe ecosystem at Nam Co, the third largest lake on the Tibetan Plateau. Using modified Mann-Kendall trend tests, we found a significant increasing daily net carbon uptake of 0.5 g C m-2 decade-1, which can be explained by a widespread greening at the southern shore of lake Nam Co. The Plateau-wide changes in temperature and precipitation are locally expressed as an increasing diurnal temperature range during winter, higher water availability during spring, higher cloud cover during early summer and less water availability during late summer. While these changes differ over the course of the year, they tend to stimulate plant growth more than microbial respiration, leading to an increased carbon uptake during all seasons. This study indicates that during the 14 years study period, a higher amplitude in winter temperatures and an earlier summer monsoon promote carbon uptake in a central Tibetan alpine steppe ecosystem.