There are new methods for assessing the total amount of carbon sequestered in deserts

Recently, the world environmental journal “Environmental Science and Technology” published the research results entitled “Desert abiotic carbon sequestration weakened by precipitation” by the team of Huang Jianping, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and professor of Lanzhou University, and promoted it as a cover paper.

The team established an estimation scheme for the carbon dioxide flux of desert quicksand considering both hydrothermal interaction and soil property factors, which deepened the understanding of the mechanism of desert carbon sequestration and provided a new scheme for assessing the total amount of desert carbon sequestration and its contribution to the global carbon cycle.

Selected for the ES&T cover paper. Photo courtesy of the research group

Studies have shown that vast desert ecosystems, which account for about one-third of the world’s land area, can absorb and sequester carbon dioxide without photosynthesis, playing a positive role in promoting “carbon neutrality” and mitigating climate warming. In recent years, global warming has intensified the water cycle, leading to a gradual increase in total global precipitation and extreme precipitation events, which is more pronounced in arid and semi-arid regions. Precipitation in desert areas can affect soil heat transfer, soil water dissolution of carbon dioxide, soil salinity concentration, microbial number and activity, and soil nutrient transport and other key processes to control desert carbon budget. However, there is still a lack of understanding of how desert soil hydrothermal synergy affects the carbon dioxide budget, which leads to the inaccurate determination of the contribution and status of desert ecosystems in the global carbon cycle.

Through continuous monitoring of the carbon dioxide flux of quicksand samples, the influence mechanism of hydrothermal joint regulation on the carbon dioxide flux of desert quicksand was revealed. However, with the further increase of desert precipitation, it will be conducive to the growth of desert vegetation, and the desert carbon sink process adding plant photosynthesis will gradually increase.

It is reported that the first author of the paper is Yang Fan, a researcher at the Urumqi Institute of Desert Meteorology of the China Meteorological Administration, and the corresponding author is Huang Jianping. (Source: China Science News, Wen Caifei, Faisha)

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