Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

High carbon dioxide uptake by subtropical forest ecosystems in the East Asian monsoon region.

PMID 24639529


Temperate- and high-latitude forests have been shown to contribute a carbon sink in the Northern Hemisphere, but fewer studies have addressed the carbon balance of the subtropical forests. In the present study, we integrated eddy covariance observations established in the 1990s and 2000s to show that East Asian monsoon subtropical forests between 20 °N and 40 °N represent an average net ecosystem productivity (NEP) of 362 ± 39 g C m(-2) yr(-1) (mean ± 1 SE). This average forest NEP value is higher than that of Asian tropical and temperate forests and is also higher than that of forests at the same latitudes in Europe-Africa and North America. East Asian monsoon subtropical forests have comparable NEP to that of subtropical forests of the southeastern United States and intensively managed Western European forests. The total NEP of East Asian monsoon subtropical forests was estimated to be 0.72 ± 0.08 Pg C yr(-1), which accounts for 8% of the global forest NEP. This result indicates that the role of subtropical forests in the current global carbon cycle cannot be ignored and that the regional distributions of the Northern Hemisphere's terrestrial carbon sinks are needed to be reevaluated. The young stand ages and high nitrogen deposition, coupled with sufficient and synchronous water and heat availability, may be the primary reasons for the high NEP of this region, and further studies are needed to quantify the contribution of each underlying factor.