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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. Terrestrial ecosystems are increasingly enriched with resources such as atmospheric CO 2 that limit ecosystem processes. The consequences for ecosystem carbon cycling depend on the feedbacks from other limiting resources and plant community change, which remain poorly understood for soil CO 2 efflux, J CO2 , a primary carbon flux from the biosphere to the atmosphere. We applied a unique CO 2 enrichment gradient (250 to 500 µL L −1 ) for eight years to grassland plant communities on soils from different landscape positions. We identified the trajectory of J CO2 responses and feedbacks from other resources, plant diversity [effective species richness, exp(H)], and community change (plant species turnover). We found linear increases in J CO2 on an alluvial sandy loam and a lowland clay soil, and an asymptotic increase on an upland silty clay soil. Structural equation modeling identified CO 2 as the dominant limitation on J CO2 on the clay soil. In contrast with theory predicting limitation from a single limiting factor, the linear J CO2 response on the sandy loam was reinforced by positive feedbacks from aboveground net primary productivity and exp(H), while the asymptotic J CO2 response on the silty clay arose from a net negativemore »feedback among exp(H), species turnover, and soil water potential. These findings support a multiple resource limitation view of the effects of global change drivers on grassland ecosystem carbon cycling and highlight a crucial role for positive or negative feedbacks between limiting resources and plant community structure. Incorporating these feedbacks will improve models of terrestrial carbon sequestration and ecosystem services.« less
  3. Abstract

    The storage and cycling of soil organic carbon (SOC) are governed by multiple co-varying factors, including climate, plant productivity, edaphic properties, and disturbance history. Yet, it remains unclear which of these factors are the dominant predictors of observed SOC stocks, globally and within biomes, and how the role of these predictors varies between observations and process-based models. Here we use global observations and an ensemble of soil biogeochemical models to quantify the emergent importance of key state factors – namely, mean annual temperature, net primary productivity, and soil mineralogy – in explaining biome- to global-scale variation in SOC stocks. We use a machine-learning approach to disentangle the role of covariates and elucidate individual relationships with SOC, without imposing expected relationshipsa priori. While we observe qualitatively similar relationships between SOC and covariates in observations and models, the magnitude and degree of non-linearity vary substantially among the models and observations. Models appear to overemphasize the importance of temperature and primary productivity (especially in forests and herbaceous biomes, respectively), while observations suggest a greater relative importance of soil minerals. This mismatch is also evident globally. However, we observe agreement between observations and model outputs in select individual biomes – namely, temperate deciduousmore »forests and grasslands, which both show stronger relationships of SOC stocks with temperature and productivity, respectively. This approach highlights biomes with the largest uncertainty and mismatch with observations for targeted model improvements. Understanding the role of dominant SOC controls, and the discrepancies between models and observations, globally and across biomes, is essential for improving and validating process representations in soil and ecosystem models for projections under novel future conditions.

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  4. Northern peatlands have accumulated large stocks of organic carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), but their spatial distribution and vulnerability to climate warming remain uncertain. Here, we used machine-learning techniques with extensive peat core data ( n > 7,000) to create observation-based maps of northern peatland C and N stocks, and to assess their response to warming and permafrost thaw. We estimate that northern peatlands cover 3.7 ± 0.5 million km 2 and store 415 ± 150 Pg C and 10 ± 7 Pg N. Nearly half of the peatland area and peat C stocks are permafrost affected. Using modeled global warming stabilization scenarios (from 1.5 to 6 °C warming), we project that the current sink of atmospheric C (0.10 ± 0.02 Pg C⋅y −1 ) in northern peatlands will shift to a C source as 0.8 to 1.9 million km 2 of permafrost-affected peatlands thaw. The projected thaw would cause peatland greenhouse gas emissions equal to ∼1% of anthropogenic radiative forcing in this century. The main forcing is from methane emissions (0.7 to 3 Pg cumulative CH 4 -C) with smaller carbon dioxide forcing (1 to 2 Pg CO 2 -C) and minor nitrous oxide losses. We project that initialmore »CO 2 -C losses reverse after ∼200 y, as warming strengthens peatland C-sinks. We project substantial, but highly uncertain, additional losses of peat into fluvial systems of 10 to 30 Pg C and 0.4 to 0.9 Pg N. The combined gaseous and fluvial peatland C loss estimated here adds 30 to 50% onto previous estimates of permafrost-thaw C losses, with southern permafrost regions being the most vulnerable.« less
  5. Abstract Wetland methane (CH 4 ) emissions ( $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 ) are important in global carbon budgets and climate change assessments. Currently, $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 projections rely on prescribed static temperature sensitivity that varies among biogeochemical models. Meta-analyses have proposed a consistent $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 temperature dependence across spatial scales for use in models; however, site-level studies demonstrate that $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 are often controlled by factors beyond temperature. Here, we evaluate the relationship between $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 and temperature using observations from the FLUXNET-CH 4 database. Measurements collected across the globe show substantial seasonal hysteresis between $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 and temperature, suggesting larger $${F}_{{{CH}}_{4}}$$ F C H 4 sensitivity to temperature later in the frost-free season (about 77% of site-years). Results derived from a machine-learning model and several regression models highlight the importance of representing the large spatial and temporal variability within site-years and ecosystem types. Mechanistic advancements in biogeochemical model parameterization and detailed measurements in factors modulating CH 4 production are thus needed to improve global CH 4 budget assessments.