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  1. Abstract

    Global warming exerts profound impacts on terrestrial carbon cycles and feedback to climates. Ecosystem respiration (ER) is one of the main components of biosphere CO2fluxes. However, knowledge regarding how ER responds to warming is still lacking. In this study, a manipulative experiment with five simulated temperature increases (+0℃ [Control], +2.1℃ [warming 1, W1], +2.7℃ [warming 2, W2], +3.2℃ [warming 3, W3], +3.9℃ [warming 4, W4]) was conducted to investigate ER responses to warming in an alpine meadow on the Tibetan Plateau. The results showed that ER was suppressed by warming both in dry and wet years. The responses of ER to warming all followed a nonlinear pattern. The nonlinear processes can be divided into three stages, the quick‐response stage (W1), stable stage (W1–W3), and transition stage (W4). Compared with the nonlinear model, the linear model maximally overestimated the response ratios of ER to warming 2.2% and 3.2% in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and maximally underestimated the ratio 7.0% and 2.7%. The annual differences in ER responding to warming were mainly attributed to the distinct seasonal distribution of precipitation. Specially, we found that the abrupt shift response of ER to warming under W4 treatment in 2015, which might be regulated by the excitatory effect of precipitation after long‐term drought in the mid‐growing season. This study highlights the importance of the nonlinearity of warming effects on ER, which should be taken into the global‐C‐cycling models for better predicting future carbon–climate feedbacks.

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