Greater ecosystem carbon in the Mojave Desert after ten years exposure to elevated CO 2

R. D. Evans, A. Koyama, D. L. Sonderegger, T. N. Charlet, B. A. Newingham, L. F. Fenstermaker, B. Harlow, V. L. Jin, K. Ogle, S. D. Smith, R. S. Nowak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas inducing climate change. Increased global CO 2 emissions, estimated at 8.4 Pg C yr a ̂'1 at present, have accelerated from 1% yr a ̂'1 during 1990-1999 to 2.5% yr a ̂'1 during 2000-2009 (ref.). The carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems is the greatest unknown in the global C budget because the actual magnitude, location and causes of terrestrial sinks are uncertain; estimates of terrestrial C uptake, therefore, are often based on the residuals between direct measurements of the atmospheric sink and well-constrained models of ocean uptake of CO 2 (ref.). Here we report significant terrestrial C accumulation caused by CO 2 enhancement to net ecosystem productivity in an intact, undisturbed arid ecosystem following ten years of exposure to elevated atmospheric CO 2. Results provide direct evidence that CO 2 fertilization substantially increases ecosystem C storage and that arid ecosystems are significant, previously unrecognized, sinks for atmospheric CO 2 that must be accounted for in efforts to constrain terrestrial and global C cycles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-397
Number of pages4
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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