Pasture degradation modifies the water and carbon cycles of the Tibetan highlands

W. Babel, T. Biermann, H. Coners, E. Falge, E. Seeber, J. Ingrisch, P. M. Schleuß, T. Gerken, J. Leonbacher, T. Leipold, S. Willinghöfer, K. Schützenmeister, O. Shibistova, L. Becker, S. Hafner, S. Spielvogel, X. Li, X. Xu, Y. Sun, L. ZhangY. Yang, Y. Ma, K. Wesche, H. F. Graf, C. Leuschner, G. Guggenberger, Y. Kuzyakov, G. Miehe, T. Foken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Tibetan Plateau has a significant role with regard to atmospheric circulation and the monsoon in particular. Changes between a closed plant cover and open bare soil are one of the striking effects of land use degradation observed with unsustainable range management or climate change, but experiments investigating changes of surface properties and processes together with atmospheric feedbacks are rare and have not been undertaken in the world's two largest alpine ecosystems, the alpine steppe and the Kobresia pygmaea pastures of the Tibetan Plateau. We connected measurements of micro-lysimeter, chamber, 13C labelling, and eddy covariance and combined the observations with land surface and atmospheric models, adapted to the highland conditions. This allowed us to analyse how three degradation stages affect the water and carbon cycle of pastures on the landscape scale within the core region of the Kobresia pygmaea ecosystem. The study revealed that increasing degradation of the Kobresia turf affects carbon allocation and strongly reduces the carbon uptake, compromising the function of Kobresia pastures as a carbon sink. Pasture degradation leads to a shift from transpiration to evaporation while a change in the sum of evapotranspiration over a longer period cannot be confirmed. The results show an earlier onset of convection and cloud generation, likely triggered by a shift in evapotranspiration timing when dominated by evaporation. Consequently, precipitation starts earlier and clouds decrease the incoming solar radiation. In summary, the changes in surface properties by pasture degradation found on the highland have a significant influence on larger scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6633-6656
Number of pages24
JournalBiogeosciences
Volume11
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2 2014

Fingerprint

hydrologic cycle
Kobresia
carbon cycle
pasture
highlands
pastures
degradation
evapotranspiration
evaporation
plateaus
water
plateau
atmospheric circulation
range management
ecosystems
carbon
ecosystem
carbon sink
biomass allocation
eddy covariance

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

Cite this

Babel, W., Biermann, T., Coners, H., Falge, E., Seeber, E., Ingrisch, J., ... Foken, T. (2014). Pasture degradation modifies the water and carbon cycles of the Tibetan highlands. Biogeosciences, 11(23), 6633-6656. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-11-6633-2014
Babel, W. ; Biermann, T. ; Coners, H. ; Falge, E. ; Seeber, E. ; Ingrisch, J. ; Schleuß, P. M. ; Gerken, T. ; Leonbacher, J. ; Leipold, T. ; Willinghöfer, S. ; Schützenmeister, K. ; Shibistova, O. ; Becker, L. ; Hafner, S. ; Spielvogel, S. ; Li, X. ; Xu, X. ; Sun, Y. ; Zhang, L. ; Yang, Y. ; Ma, Y. ; Wesche, K. ; Graf, H. F. ; Leuschner, C. ; Guggenberger, G. ; Kuzyakov, Y. ; Miehe, G. ; Foken, T. / Pasture degradation modifies the water and carbon cycles of the Tibetan highlands. In: Biogeosciences. 2014 ; Vol. 11, No. 23. pp. 6633-6656.
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abstract = "The Tibetan Plateau has a significant role with regard to atmospheric circulation and the monsoon in particular. Changes between a closed plant cover and open bare soil are one of the striking effects of land use degradation observed with unsustainable range management or climate change, but experiments investigating changes of surface properties and processes together with atmospheric feedbacks are rare and have not been undertaken in the world's two largest alpine ecosystems, the alpine steppe and the Kobresia pygmaea pastures of the Tibetan Plateau. We connected measurements of micro-lysimeter, chamber, 13C labelling, and eddy covariance and combined the observations with land surface and atmospheric models, adapted to the highland conditions. This allowed us to analyse how three degradation stages affect the water and carbon cycle of pastures on the landscape scale within the core region of the Kobresia pygmaea ecosystem. The study revealed that increasing degradation of the Kobresia turf affects carbon allocation and strongly reduces the carbon uptake, compromising the function of Kobresia pastures as a carbon sink. Pasture degradation leads to a shift from transpiration to evaporation while a change in the sum of evapotranspiration over a longer period cannot be confirmed. The results show an earlier onset of convection and cloud generation, likely triggered by a shift in evapotranspiration timing when dominated by evaporation. Consequently, precipitation starts earlier and clouds decrease the incoming solar radiation. In summary, the changes in surface properties by pasture degradation found on the highland have a significant influence on larger scales.",
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Babel, W, Biermann, T, Coners, H, Falge, E, Seeber, E, Ingrisch, J, Schleuß, PM, Gerken, T, Leonbacher, J, Leipold, T, Willinghöfer, S, Schützenmeister, K, Shibistova, O, Becker, L, Hafner, S, Spielvogel, S, Li, X, Xu, X, Sun, Y, Zhang, L, Yang, Y, Ma, Y, Wesche, K, Graf, HF, Leuschner, C, Guggenberger, G, Kuzyakov, Y, Miehe, G & Foken, T 2014, 'Pasture degradation modifies the water and carbon cycles of the Tibetan highlands', Biogeosciences, vol. 11, no. 23, pp. 6633-6656. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-11-6633-2014

Pasture degradation modifies the water and carbon cycles of the Tibetan highlands. / Babel, W.; Biermann, T.; Coners, H.; Falge, E.; Seeber, E.; Ingrisch, J.; Schleuß, P. M.; Gerken, T.; Leonbacher, J.; Leipold, T.; Willinghöfer, S.; Schützenmeister, K.; Shibistova, O.; Becker, L.; Hafner, S.; Spielvogel, S.; Li, X.; Xu, X.; Sun, Y.; Zhang, L.; Yang, Y.; Ma, Y.; Wesche, K.; Graf, H. F.; Leuschner, C.; Guggenberger, G.; Kuzyakov, Y.; Miehe, G.; Foken, T.

In: Biogeosciences, Vol. 11, No. 23, 02.12.2014, p. 6633-6656.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Pasture degradation modifies the water and carbon cycles of the Tibetan highlands

AU - Babel, W.

AU - Biermann, T.

AU - Coners, H.

AU - Falge, E.

AU - Seeber, E.

AU - Ingrisch, J.

AU - Schleuß, P. M.

AU - Gerken, T.

AU - Leonbacher, J.

AU - Leipold, T.

AU - Willinghöfer, S.

AU - Schützenmeister, K.

AU - Shibistova, O.

AU - Becker, L.

AU - Hafner, S.

AU - Spielvogel, S.

AU - Li, X.

AU - Xu, X.

AU - Sun, Y.

AU - Zhang, L.

AU - Yang, Y.

AU - Ma, Y.

AU - Wesche, K.

AU - Graf, H. F.

AU - Leuschner, C.

AU - Guggenberger, G.

AU - Kuzyakov, Y.

AU - Miehe, G.

AU - Foken, T.

PY - 2014/12/2

Y1 - 2014/12/2

N2 - The Tibetan Plateau has a significant role with regard to atmospheric circulation and the monsoon in particular. Changes between a closed plant cover and open bare soil are one of the striking effects of land use degradation observed with unsustainable range management or climate change, but experiments investigating changes of surface properties and processes together with atmospheric feedbacks are rare and have not been undertaken in the world's two largest alpine ecosystems, the alpine steppe and the Kobresia pygmaea pastures of the Tibetan Plateau. We connected measurements of micro-lysimeter, chamber, 13C labelling, and eddy covariance and combined the observations with land surface and atmospheric models, adapted to the highland conditions. This allowed us to analyse how three degradation stages affect the water and carbon cycle of pastures on the landscape scale within the core region of the Kobresia pygmaea ecosystem. The study revealed that increasing degradation of the Kobresia turf affects carbon allocation and strongly reduces the carbon uptake, compromising the function of Kobresia pastures as a carbon sink. Pasture degradation leads to a shift from transpiration to evaporation while a change in the sum of evapotranspiration over a longer period cannot be confirmed. The results show an earlier onset of convection and cloud generation, likely triggered by a shift in evapotranspiration timing when dominated by evaporation. Consequently, precipitation starts earlier and clouds decrease the incoming solar radiation. In summary, the changes in surface properties by pasture degradation found on the highland have a significant influence on larger scales.

AB - The Tibetan Plateau has a significant role with regard to atmospheric circulation and the monsoon in particular. Changes between a closed plant cover and open bare soil are one of the striking effects of land use degradation observed with unsustainable range management or climate change, but experiments investigating changes of surface properties and processes together with atmospheric feedbacks are rare and have not been undertaken in the world's two largest alpine ecosystems, the alpine steppe and the Kobresia pygmaea pastures of the Tibetan Plateau. We connected measurements of micro-lysimeter, chamber, 13C labelling, and eddy covariance and combined the observations with land surface and atmospheric models, adapted to the highland conditions. This allowed us to analyse how three degradation stages affect the water and carbon cycle of pastures on the landscape scale within the core region of the Kobresia pygmaea ecosystem. The study revealed that increasing degradation of the Kobresia turf affects carbon allocation and strongly reduces the carbon uptake, compromising the function of Kobresia pastures as a carbon sink. Pasture degradation leads to a shift from transpiration to evaporation while a change in the sum of evapotranspiration over a longer period cannot be confirmed. The results show an earlier onset of convection and cloud generation, likely triggered by a shift in evapotranspiration timing when dominated by evaporation. Consequently, precipitation starts earlier and clouds decrease the incoming solar radiation. In summary, the changes in surface properties by pasture degradation found on the highland have a significant influence on larger scales.

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Babel W, Biermann T, Coners H, Falge E, Seeber E, Ingrisch J et al. Pasture degradation modifies the water and carbon cycles of the Tibetan highlands. Biogeosciences. 2014 Dec 2;11(23):6633-6656. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-11-6633-2014