Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

No proportional increase of terrestrial gross carbon sequestration from the greening earth

Formally Refereed
Authors: Yulong Zhang, Conghe Song, Lawrence E. Band, Ge Sun
Year: 2019
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences


Terrestrial vegetation, as the key component of the biosphere, has a greening trend since the beginning of this century. However, how this substantial greening translated to global gross carbon sequestration or gross primary production (GPP) is not clear. Here we investigated terrestrial GPP dynamics and the respective contributions of climate change and vegetation cover change (VCC) from 2000 to 2015. We adopted a remote sensing based data‐driven model, which was calibrated based on the global eddy flux data set (FLUXNET2015) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer vegetation index data (Collection 6). A series of simulation experiments were conducted to disaggregate the effects of climate and VCC. We found a much weaker increase in global GPP (0.08%/year; P = 0.07) when compared with the global greening rate (0.23%/year; P < 0.001). The positive effect of VCC on GPP was reduced by 53% due to climate stress. Enhanced global GPP were largely contributed by nonforests, especially croplands. However, tropical forests, once a major driver of the global GPP increase, negatively contributed to global GPP trend due to warming‐induced moisture stress and deforestation. Given the limited potential of cropland carbon storage due to harvest and consumption, the contrasting GPP changes (i.e., cropland GPP increase vs. forest GPP reduction) may have shifted the distribution of the land carbon sink. Our study highlights the potential vulnerability of terrestrial gross carbon sequestration under climate and land use changes and has important implications in the global carbon cycle and climate warming mitigation.


Zhang, Yulong; Song, Conghe; Band, Lawrence E.; Sun, Ge. 2019. No proportional increase of terrestrial gross carbon sequestration from the greening earth. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. 112: 298-.