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Global Convergence in the Temperature Sensitivity of Respiration at Ecosystem Level

Science  13 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5993, pp. 838-840
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189587

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Abstract

The respiratory release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the land surface is a major flux in the global carbon cycle, antipodal to photosynthetic CO2 uptake. Understanding the sensitivity of respiratory processes to temperature is central for quantifying the climate–carbon cycle feedback. We approximated the sensitivity of terrestrial ecosystem respiration to air temperature (Q10) across 60 FLUXNET sites with the use of a methodology that circumvents confounding effects. Contrary to previous findings, our results suggest that Q10 is independent of mean annual temperature, does not differ among biomes, and is confined to values around 1.4 ± 0.1. The strong relation between photosynthesis and respiration, by contrast, is highly variable among sites. The results may partly explain a less pronounced climate–carbon cycle feedback than suggested by current carbon cycle climate models.

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