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Sci Rep. 2016 Jan 7;6:18813. doi: 10.1038/srep18813.

Severe summer heatwave and drought strongly reduced carbon uptake in Southern China.

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State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China.
State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, Gansu, China.
National Engineering Laboratory for Applied Technology of Forestry &Ecology in South China, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha 410004, Hunan, China.
Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Synthesis Research Center of Chinese Ecosystem Research Network, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.
College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China.
Institute for Climate and Global Change Research &School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, China.
State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China.
State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University, Lin'an 311300, China.


Increasing heatwave and drought events can potentially alter the carbon cycle. Few studies have investigated the impacts of hundred-year return heatwaves and droughts, as those events are rare. In the summer of 2013, southern China experienced its strongest drought and heatwave on record for the past 113 years. We show that the record-breaking heatwave and drought lasted two months (from July to August), significantly reduced the satellite-based vegetation index and gross primary production, substantially altered the regional carbon cycle, and produced the largest negative crop yield anomaly since 1960. The event resulted in a net reduction of 101.54 Tg C in carbon sequestration in the region during these two months, which was 39-53% of the annual net carbon sink of China's terrestrial ecosystems (190-260 Tg C yr(-1)). Moreover, model experiments showed that heatwaves and droughts consistently decreased ecosystem vegetation primary production but had opposite impacts on ecosystem respiration (TER), with increased TER by 6.78 ± 2.15% and decreased TER by 15.34 ± 3.57% assuming only changed temperature and precipitation, respectively. In light of increasing frequency and severity of future heatwaves and droughts, our study highlights the importance of accounting for the impacts of heatwaves and droughts in assessing the carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems.

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