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Drought and Carbon Cycling of Grassland Ecosystems under Global Change: A Review

1,2, 1,2,*, 1,2, 1,2, 1,2,†, 1,2,†, 1,2,†, 1,2, 1,2, 1,2 and 3,*
State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, Beijing 100038, China
China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR), Beijing 100038, China
Department of Geography/CGCEO, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48823, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Y. Jun Xu
Water 2016, 8(10), 460;
Received: 1 May 2016 / Revised: 30 September 2016 / Accepted: 7 October 2016 / Published: 17 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tackling Complex Water Problems in China under Changing Environment)
PDF [678 KB, uploaded 17 October 2016]


In recent years, the increased intensity and duration of droughts have dramatically altered the structure and function of grassland ecosystems, which have been forced to adapt to this change in climate. Combinations of global change drivers such as elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration, warming, nitrogen (N) deposition, grazing, and land-use change have influenced the impact that droughts have on grassland C cycling. This influence, to some extent, can modify the relationship between droughts and grassland carbon (C) cycling in the multi-factor world. Unfortunately, prior reviews have been primarily anecdotal from the 1930s to the 2010s. We investigated the current state of the study on the interactive impacts of multiple factors under drought scenarios in grassland C cycling and provided scientific advice for dealing with droughts and managing grassland C cycling in a multi-factor world. Currently, adequate information is not available on the interaction between droughts and global change drivers, which would advance our understanding of grassland C cycling responses. It was determined that future experiments and models should specifically test how droughts regulate grassland C cycling under global changes. Previous multi-factor experiments of current and future global change conditions have studied various drought scenarios poorly, including changes in precipitation frequency and amplitude, timing, and interactions with other global change drivers. Multi-factor experiments have contributed to quantifying these potential changes and have provided important information on how water affects ecosystem processes under global change. There is an urgent need to establish a systematic framework that can assess ecosystem dynamic responses to droughts under current and future global change and human activity, with a focus on the combined effects of droughts, global change drivers, and the corresponding hierarchical responses of an ecosystem. View Full-Text
Keywords: water stress; carbon sequestration; grassland; global change drivers; ecosystem function water stress; carbon sequestration; grassland; global change drivers; ecosystem function

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Lei, T.; Pang, Z.; Wang, X.; Li, L.; Fu, J.; Kan, G.; Zhang, X.; Ding, L.; Li, J.; Huang, S.; Shao, C. Drought and Carbon Cycling of Grassland Ecosystems under Global Change: A Review. Water 2016, 8, 460.

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