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Implications of the Steady-state Assumption for the Global Vegetation Carbon Turnover
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  • Naixin Fan,
  • Maurizio Santoro,
  • Simon Besnard,
  • Oliver Cartus,
  • Sujan Koirala,
  • Nuno Carvalhais
Naixin Fan
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Corresponding Author:nfan@bgc-jena.mpg.de

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Maurizio Santoro
Gamma Remote Sensing
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Simon Besnard
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
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Oliver Cartus
GAMMA Remote Sensing
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Sujan Koirala
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
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Nuno Carvalhais
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Vegetation turnover time (τ) is a central ecosystem property to quantify the global vegetation carbon dynamics. However, our understanding of vegetation dynamics is hampered by the lack of long-term observations of the changes in vegetation biomass. Here we challenge the steady state assumption of τ by using annual changes in vegetation biomass that derived from remote-sensing observations. We evaluate the changes in magnitude, spatial patterns, and uncertainties in vegetation carbon turnover times from 1992 to 2016. We found that the forest ecosystem is close to a steady state at global scale, contrasting with the larger differences between τ under steady state and τ under non-steady state at the grid cell level. The observation that terrestrial ecosystems are not in a steady state locally is deemed crucial when studying vegetation dynamics and the potential response of biomass to disturbance and climatic changes.