Because of global warming, Earth’s ecosystems have been experiencing more frequent and severe heatwaves. Heatwaves are expected to tip terrestrial carbon sequestration by elevating ecosystem respiration and suppressing gross primary productivity (GPP). Here, using the convergent cross-mapping technique, this study detected positive bidirectional causal effects between GPP and respiration in two unprecedented European heatwaves. Heatwaves enhanced the causal effect strength of GPP on respiration rather than respiration on GPP across 40 site-years of observations. Further analyses and global simulations revealed spatial heterogeneity in the heatwave response of the causal link strength between GPP and respiration, which was jointly driven by the local climate and vegetation properties. However, the causal effect strength of GPP on respiration showed considerable uncertainties in CMIP6 models. This study reveals an enhanced causal link strength between GPP and respiration during heatwaves, shedding light on improving projections for terrestrial carbon sink dynamics under future climate extremes.
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