The terrestrial biosphere is a key component of the global carbon cycle and its carbon balance is strongly influenced by climate. Continuing environmental changes are thought to increase global terrestrial carbon uptake. But evidence is mounting that climate extremes such as droughts or storms can lead to a decrease in regional ecosystem carbon stocks and therefore have the potential to negate an expected increase in terrestrial carbon uptake. Here we explore the mechanisms and impacts of climate extremes on the terrestrial carbon cycle, and propose a pathway to improve our understanding of present and future impacts of climate extremes on the terrestrial carbon budget.
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This work emerged from the CARBO-Extreme project, funded by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement (FP7-ENV-2008-1-226701). We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modelling groups (listed in the reference annotation to ref. 4 of this paper) for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP the US Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. J.Z. is part of the International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles. P.S. is a Royal Society–Wolfson Research Merit Award holder. S.V. is a postdoctoral research associate of the Fund for Scientific Research—Flanders. M.B. acknowledges the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Reichstein, M., Bahn, M., Ciais, P. et al. Climate extremes and the carbon cycle. Nature 500, 287–295 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12350
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