Chronic drought decreased organic carbon content in topsoil greater than intense drought across grasslands in Northern China

Md Shahariar Jaman, Qiang Yu, Chong Xu, Mahbuba Jamil, Yuguang Ke, Tian Yang, Alan K. Knapp, Kate Wilkins, Scott L. Collins, Robert J. Griffin-Nolan, Yiqi Luo, Wentao Luo, Honghui Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Grasslands are expected to experience extreme climatic events such as extreme drought due to rising global temperatures. However, we still lack evidence of how extreme drought influence soil organic carbon (SOC) content in grassland ecosystems. We experimentally imposed extreme drought in two ways – chronic drought (66 % reduction in precipitation from May to August) and intense drought (100 % reduction in precipitation from June to July) to measure the effects of these two drought types on (SOC) content across six grassland sites that spanning desert steppe, typical steppe and meadow steppe in northern China. The experiment followed a randomized complete block design with six replicates of each treatment at each site. Our results showed that both chronic and intense drought decreased SOC content in the topsoil (0–10 cm) and the loss was higher in arid grasslands (desert steppe and typical steppe). Chronic drought decreased SOC content more than intense drought, with the effect again being strongest in arid grasslands. Furthermore, the response of SOC content to extreme drought was linked with the response of net primary productivity. Specifically, the response of SOC content was negatively correlated with drought sensitivity of above-ground net primary productivity (ANPP) but positively correlated with drought sensitivity of belowground NPP (BNPP). Overall, our results suggest that shifts in grassland SOC content with future drought will depend on the types of drought as well as the productivity responses and local climatic conditions such as precipitation, temperature, and aridity. The differential extreme drought impacts described here may facilitate predictions of climate change impacts on ecosystem carbon cycling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116832
JournalGeoderma
Volume443
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Carbon cycling
  • Climate change
  • Extreme drought
  • Grassland ecosystem
  • Primary productivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science

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