Reconciling carbon-cycle processes from ecosystem to global scales

Ashley P. Ballantyne, Zhihua Liu, William R.L. Anderegg, Zicheng Yu, Paul Stoy, Ben Poulter, Joseph Vanderwall, Jennifer Watts, Kathy Kelsey, Jason Neff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Understanding carbon (C) dynamics from ecosystem to global scales remains a challenge. Although expansion of global carbon dioxide (CO2) observatories makes it possible to estimate C-cycle processes from ecosystem to global scales, these estimates do not necessarily agree. At the continental US scale, only 5% of C fixed through photosynthesis remains as net ecosystem exchange (NEE), but ecosystem measurements indicate that only 2% of fixed C remains in grasslands, whereas as much as 30% remains in needleleaf forests. The wet and warm Southeast has the highest gross primary productivity and the relatively wet and cool Midwest has the highest NEE, indicating important spatial mismatches. Newly available satellite and atmospheric data can be combined in innovative ways to identify potential C loss pathways to reconcile these spatial mismatches. Independent datasets compiled from terrestrial and aquatic environments can now be combined to advance C-cycle science across the land–water interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


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